Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Best (and Easiest) Lasagna

Okay, so this is a pretty lame picture but I took it before we got our new camera so it can't be helped. I know the cheese looks sort of burned and nasty looking but I promise it's not. This particular time I probably cooked it for about 5 minutes too long but it was still unbelievably delicious.

I love lasagna but think it's a pain in the butt. I also don't love ricotta cheese and so those types of recipes don't appeal to me. When I saw this recipe in Wondertime magazine, I knew it was for me. I've since made it quite a few times, the first being when my mom and dad came for Christmas.

The Best Lasagna
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey (or cooked chicken, Italian sausage etc.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
26 to 28 oz. (about 3 cups) pasta sauce - I use totally cheapo Hunt's Traditional in a can. I know it sounds weird but it is seriously the best store-bought sauce. I think everything else is too sweet. Try it - you won't be disappointed.
2 tbsp. red wine (optional)
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. white wine (optional)
3 cups freshly grated mozzarella
6 to 8 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups cooked, well-drained broccoli, spinach, peas or other vegetables - Optional. I don't add this stuff because I like my lasagna all plain.
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat oven to 400. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Thoroughly cook the ground beef, garlic, and herbs in a large skillet. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Season to taste and add the red wine, if using. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add cream cheese, turn heat to low, and whisk until smooth, about 6 minutes. Season to taste and add the white wine, if using.

Spoon half the meat sauce into the pan as evenly as possible. Sprinkle 1 cup grated mozzarella over the meat mixture. Top with 3 or 4 lasagna noodles. If using vegetable, toss them evenly over the noodles.

Pour the cream cheese sauce over the noodles and cover with another cup of grated mozzarella. Arrange 3 or 4 lasagna noodles over the cheese, then spoon remaining meat mixture over noodles as evenly as possible. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and the grated parmesan. Bake until brown and bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before you cut it. Seriously. It will be too gloppy and you'll go crazy.