Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Weeknight Lasagna Recipe

First a site note: There are many joys to being new parents, however the course of an illness moving from baby to mom to dad is not one of them. We've had a tough February but will try to get back to our regularly-scheduled blogging!

Lasagna is a great winter comfort food.  Hot, rich, delicious, and a 13"x9" pan will feed a family for days--or if you've had enough--it also freezes well.  Unfortunately, lasagna can take a while to prepare and is not often thought of as a weeknight option.  However, I think that's a bad rap.  Sure, it's never going to be a 30-minute meal but if you can spare about an hour and a half, you can pull it off.

The folks at Red Gold were kind enough to send us cans of their crushed and diced tomatoes.  Add some ground beef, ricotta, mozzarella, and the noodles and you're good to go.  That's right: six ingredients, plus some salt and grated Parmesan cheese you probably have on hand and you're all set.

Weeknight lasagna recipe ingredients - ricotta, mozzarella, beef, noodles and Red Gold tomatoes
Just six ingredients is all it takes!

Now the details - below is Red Gold's "Easy Classic" lasagna recipe, and it's just that: an easy, simple, classic lasagna recipe.  If you want to incorporate a couple of grandma's secrets, go ahead.  Lasagna is pretty forgiving and can stand a bit of tweaking to taste.  Personally, I liked the simplicity of the Red Gold recipe as-is, though I think Italian sausage would have given it just a little more flavor than the ground beef I used.

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes (use Red Gold's with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano for best results)
1 lb ground beef or ground Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1 (16 oz) carton of traditional lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 (15 oz) tub of low fat ricotta (I used regular ricotta because lasagna)
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

-Cook and drain your ground meat of choice (can be done in advance and refrigerated)
-Preheat oven to 350F
-In large mixing bowl combine water, all of the tomatoes, salt, and cooked ground meat
-Cover bottom of 9x13x2 baking dish with 1-1/2 cups of the sauce mixture.  Arrange 1/3 of the noodles on top of the sauce, overlapping slightly
-Top noodles with half of the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, and 1 cup of sauce
-Repeat layers and top with last 1/3 of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
-Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1-to-1-1/2 hours.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving

This recipes yields 12 servings, though it could be easily divided between two 9x9 square baking dishes, frozen and baked later.  Alternatively, you can bake the entire dish and freeze the leftovers.  For best
results, when reheating the leftovers, make holes in the lasagna with a fork and pour a small amount (a couple of tablespoons total) of milk over the holes, cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 until evenly reheated (cooking time will vary depending on how large a portion you are reheating).

Weeknight lasagna recipe - finished lasagna
Voila - easy weeknight lasagna

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