This is a hearty, meaty lasagna recipe. You have two choices here. If you’re up for it, you can make your own sauce, which takes about 2 hours. Or, to save time, you can substitute your favorite store-bought sauce. We have done both. It’s all up to you. Our homemade sauce will make more than what’s needed for one lasagna. Since it takes so long to make the sauce, we always make sure we have enough for a second lasagna or to use, as is, over pasta for another night. You can save the extra sauce in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup (150 grams) finely diced onion
1/2 cup (75 grams) finely diced carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup (75 grams) tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 unbroken lasagna noodles
16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
If you have purchased Italian sausages with casings, you will need to remove the casings. To do so, take a knife and cut down the length of the sausage. The casing should peel away easily. If you purchased sausage meat without casings, you can continue to the next step.
Heat a heavy 4 to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add olive oil then add the sausage meat and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until browned. About 8 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl. Next, add the beef with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. About 8 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with sausage.
Add onion, carrots and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown. About 8 minutes.
Now, add garlic, basil and oregano to onions and carrot then cook about 1 minute until garlic becomes fragrant. Next, add crushed tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits that are stuck to the pot. Add sausage and beef into sauce and stir.
Add tomato paste, water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, stir then taste for seasoning. Depending on how acidic your tomatoes are, you may need a little more sugar. You also want to taste for salt. It’s best to add the salt now rather than later, so taste and season as needed.
Gently simmer sauce, uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. (Keep the sauce at a very low simmer).
Skim off any fat floating on top and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Our homemade sauce can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. This recipe yields about 9 cups of sauce. You will need 4 to 5 cups of sauce for the lasagna. So, either save the sauce for a second lasagna or use to top pasta another day.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a boil. Add lasagna noodles to the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, according to package directions, this is usually about 10 minutes. Drain.
In the meantime, stir ricotta with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the beaten egg.
To assemble the lasagna, ladle about 3/4 cup of the meat sauce into the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. Arrange noodles lengthwise and side by side and cover the bottom. (If the noodles are short on one end, you may need to cut an extra noodle and place into dish to cover where the other noodles have not).
Next, spread about half of the ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese ) mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with a third of the shredded mozzarella cheese then top with about 1 1/4 cups of meat sauce. Add another layer of noodles and repeat. Add a third layer of noodles then top with remaining sauce and a final layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes, uncover then bake 20 minutes until cheese is crusty around the edges. Let rest at least 15 minutes.