From summer potlucks to a cozy winter dinner, lasagna is just one of those pasta recipes that taste great no matter what time of the year it is.
Lasagna originates from Italy, the home of pasta. It first turned up in the city of Bologna where the traditional recipe saw layers of pasta layered with sauce, but if you ventured outside of the city limits you might find it with ricotta cheese or different vegetables layered in. Although in North America you will find most lasagna made with ground beef, you can also find the dish prepared with ground pork, chicken, and turkey.
You can purchase ready-made lasagna noodles that are oven-ready or those that need to be boiled before using, but for the absolute best lasagna you should whip out your pasta maker and create your own noodles. The traditional lasagna noodle was created with semolina and water, but you can also use flour and eggs.
This week we’re taking a look at the best lasagna recipes, and we’re going to start with a recipe you can use to create your own lasagna noodles.
Basic homemade pasta recipe
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Mound the flour on a clean work surface. Hollow out the center making a well in the middle of the flour with steep sides.
Break the eggs into the well. Add the salt, and olive oil to the hollow center and gently mix together with a fork. Gradually start incorporating the flour by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well. As you incorporate more of the flour, the dough will start to take shape.
With your hands or a bench scraper continue working the dough until it comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a little water; if too wet or sticky, add a little flour.
Begin kneading the dough and keep kneading until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, set the dough aside, cover it with plastic, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but allow it to return to room temperature before rolling it out.
Divide the pasta dough into 4 even sections. Keep each section covered with wrap a clean towel while you work with each one. Flour the dough, the rollers of a pasta roller (or your rolling pin), your hands, and the work surface.
If using a pasta machine, flatten 1 of the of the dough pieces between your hands or with a floured rolling pin until it forms a thick oval disk. Always make sure you dust the disk, the roller, and your hands with additional flour. Flour a baking sheet to hold the rolled out finished pasta.
With the roller on the widest setting, pass the pasta through the machine’s rollers a few times until it is smooth. Fold the dough over into 1/3, and continue to pass through a few more times until the pasta is smooth again. Begin adjusting the pasta machine settings to become thinner, passing the dough through a few times at each setting.
Now that you’ve got your homemade sheets of lasagna, you can create one of these amazing lasagna recipes:
World’s Best Lasagna
The best lasagna has everything but the kitchen sink thrown in there, and this definitely earns the tile ‘World’s Best’ with both spicy italian sausage, ground beef, and tons of gooey cheese.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
I’ve been watching Emeril for years, and after watching him prepare this lasagna I had to try it. I opted out of using ground veal, and I don’t feel like anything was missing.
2 cups fresh ricotta
Emeril’s Meat Sauce:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, Provolone, Mozzarella, Romano, egg, milk, basil and garlic. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. To assemble, spread 2 1/2 cups of the meat sauce on the bottom of a deep dish lasagna pan. Sprinkle 1/4 of the grated cheese over the sauce. Cover the cheese with 1/4 of the dried noodles. Spread a 1/4 of the cheese filling evenly over the noodles. Repeat the above process with the remaining ingredients, toping the lasagna with the remaining sauce. Place in the oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving. Slice and serve.
Emeril’s Meat Sauce:
In a large nonreactive saucepan, over medium heat, add the oil. In a mixing bowl, combine the meat. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. When the oil is hot, add the meat and brown for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk the tomato paste with the stock and add to the tomatoes. Add the thyme, bay leaves, oregano, basil and red pepper. Mix well. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add more liquid if needed. During the last 30 minutes or cooking, re-season with salt and pepper and stir in the cheese. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (26 ounce) jars pasta sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (15 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.
In a large saucepan, cook and stir mushrooms, green peppers, onion, and garlic in oil. Stir in pasta sauce and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
Mix together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, and eggs.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread 1 cup tomato sauce into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer 1/2 each, lasagna noodles, ricotta mix, sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering, and top with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
It’s easy to make the world’s best lasagna when you have the right small appliances. Check out these perfect pasta accessories and all of Best Buy’s small kitchen appliances.
Flat sheet noodles like lasagna noodles are easy with the Roma Electric Pasta Maker
The Kenwood Chef Kitchen Machine isn’t just a mixer for your cakes and cookies, with the right attachments it’s also a pasta maker.
The Kenwood Pasta Roller attaches to the Kenwood Chef Kitchen Machine and easily rolls out homemade pasta dough