This recipe is the most popular among all our friends and family. We get asked to make it for holidays and events often. When we are visiting family in the U.S., we make it at least twice. Once for a family meal and then another for my parents to cut into separate pieces and freeze to eat later during the year.
I don’t know if it’s the insane amounts of cheese or the way the sauce tastes with loads of vegetables in it. When we throw a party and lasagna is on the menu, people show up. Everyone shows up. This dish is so filling on its own, you can serve it with a side salad and garlic bread, but no one will miss the other things if you just serve the lasagna. It’s that good. This recipe is with eco ground beef, but we have also made it with spicy Italian sausage when we can get a hold of it.
Traditional Homemade Lasagna Recipe
- 1 lb ground beef or if you prefer, Italian sausage
- 1 package lasagna noodles approx. 12 noodles
- 1 - 1/2 lb grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 2 large cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 carrot optional
- 1 celery stick optional
- 1/2 zucchini optional
- fennel optional
- red pepper flakes optional
- olive oil
Dice and sauté vegetables.
Cook meat and add spices.
Add tomato sauce and simmer.
Prepare ricotta filling.
Cover and bake lasagna for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest.
STEP ONE – DICE AND SAUTÉ VEGETABLES
Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium to large pot and heat on the stove. Dice all vegetables and add them to the pot. Sauté, stirring occasionally until vegetables soften, about 10-15 minutes.
STEP TWO – COOK MEAT AND ADD SPICES
Add the ground beef to the pot and cook until meat is brown, stirring frequently (about 10 minutes). Season with basil, oregano, fennel, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste.
STEP THREE – ADD TOMATO SAUCE AND SIMMER
Add the cans of crushed tomatoes to the pot. Simmer the sauce until it thickens, sometimes I add about a quarter cup of wine at this point.
STEP FOUR – PREPARE RICOTTA FILLING
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, about half of the parmesan cheese, an egg, salt and pepper. Stir with a fork to combine the egg and once it is combined, add the spinach. Stir again to break up the spinach. We used spinach from our garden for this meal, I love when we can incorporate things we are growing! Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
STEP FIVE – ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA
In a 9X12 pan, add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom. Lay four noodles across the width of the pan. Add half of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle a layer of the shredded mozzarella on top. Add another layer of sauce, and four more noodles on top. Add the rest of the ricotta mixture and more mozzarella. Add one more layer of sauce and then 4 more noodles and top it with more sauce. Generously add the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
STEP SIX – COVER AND BAKE LASAGNA
Cover the lasagna with foil, to avoid the cheese sticking to the foil, place toothpicks at each corner and one in the middle and lightly tent the foil. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
STEP SEVEN – REMOVE FOIL AND BAKE 15 MORE MINUTES
After the lasagna has been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake it for 15 more minutes, or until the cheese browns.
STEP EIGHT – REMOVE FROM OVEN AND ALLOW TO REST
Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it rest and cool on a heat resistant surface. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Sometimes the cheese melts and drips onto our oven and this can be a clean-up nightmare. To avoid this, place a layer of foil in the bottom of your oven before you bake the lasagna. If you are using fresh herbs instead of dried, it works best to add them after you add the crushed tomatoes.
If you’ve never made lasagna before, make sure you read the package of your lasagna noodles carefully. There are many different types, some that you need to boil before assembling the lasagna, and some which are ready to use and don’t require boiling in advance. You can also use gluten-free noodles for anyone with intolerances. It would be easy to make this recipe vegetarian, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it without the cheese.
Sometimes we make more sauce than we need just so we have leftovers for another day. That way we get a whole other meal out of this prep and can have spaghetti with meat sauce.
As I said earlier, you don’t need much else with this dish, it is full of vegetables already. However, a nice green salad pairs nicely with this and a loaf of garlic bread can be used to sop up the sauce from your plate. Serve with a bold red wine, and enjoy!
Tracy Carmen Watkin
Tracy lives in Barcelona, Spain with her husband, Jeff. Originally from California, they made the big move overseas in 2012 and have settled into expat life quite well. They love creating new recipes and cooking together. Tracy has a large garden and tries to cook using what they grow as inspiration. She loves to host dinner parties and create food themes using local and organic ingredients.