I typically make lasagna only a few times per year, one of them being at Christmas time. I have tried many recipes and altered so many over the years...but this past Christmas, I hit the "lasagna jackpot" with my lasagna creation. I had found a recipe that claimed, as many of them do, to be "the world's best". Well, from all the years of making various lasagna recipes, I knew that this recipe really needed a major overhaul. One of the very first things that struck me about it was that I had never seen a lasagna recipe that was so chintzy with the cheese! Also, many of the ingredient amounts were just way out of whack. Most lasagna recipes are fairly similar but the amount of ingredients can vary greatly. So, with my experience, I have concocted what I truly believe to be the "World's So Much Better Than Best Lasagna"...because it really is. Now, if you are looking for "diet" lasagna, this is definitely not the recipe for you, although you can reduce the calories and fat by substituting some lower fat ingredients (I use part-skim ricotta cheese, part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, for example). If you wanted to, you could substitute ground turkey for the ground beef and turkey Italian sausage for the regular Italian sausage. But, if you are like me and only make it for special occasions or you want the "real deal"...then this is the recipe for you! I made this lasagna this past Christmas, and in my house, that meal must have "red and green" in it...period, end of discussion! ;-)
Also, some lasagna recipes, including the one that I re-worked here, have directions that are just plain horrible and tedious to follow, particularly when it comes to assembling the lasagna. You have to go back and re-read them over and over again as you assemble the layers. Well, that all ends here with this recipe. This recipe is clear and concise and easy to follow. I will say, though, that it is a bit more time consuming than other recipes because you are making your own meat sauce instead of just using a jarred sauce with ground meat (not that there is anything wrong with doing that at all). My suggestion to make it easier for you on the day you actually plan to cook and eat it would be to make your meat sauce ahead of time, either the day before or a couple of days beforehand. Making your sauce ahead of time would greatly reduce your prep work and prep time on the day you actually assemble, cook and serve it...and that is always a good thing!
One last thing...most lasagna recipes call for using a 9x13 inch casserole dish or pan, which can be used. However, I do believe that if you use a basic 9x13 inch baking dish, that it will very likely bubble over into your oven which I absolutely can not stand. My suggestion would be to use either a deeper lasagna dish or pan , or you could use a stainless steel roasting pan that was approximately 9x13 or larger to put your lasagna in (I used to use a roasting pan that was approximately 10x15 that worked perfectly). If your pan is slightly larger, then just add a couple of extra noodles to each noodle layer (there is plenty of filling, cheese and sauce). I actually purchased and use a special porcelain covered cast iron lasagna dish made by Mario Batali that is approximately 3 inches deep and is perfect for making deeper lasagnas (it really weighs a lot before putting the lasagna in it and it weighs a ton after the lasagna is actually in it)...but, I absolutely love this pan and wish I would have purchased it a long time ago. I've included a photo of the lasagna below as well as a picture of the lasagna pan I use, and last but not least...the recipe. I promise you that you will find the assembly instructions concise and easy to follow and you won't end up wanting to tear your hair out trying to follow it. Enjoy!
|World's "So Much Better Than Best" Lasagna
A red & green theme is a must for our Christmas meal (the spinach layer adds additional green inside too, along with the fresh basil and Italian parsley).
|This is the kind of lasagna pan I use...and it's one of the best investments I've ever made!
|Here is a picture of the pan (I store it in the box to protect it).
|Here's another perspective...I love this lasagna pan!
|Green Bean Almondine