Sunday, December 18, 2011

Slow-cooked Sunday: Lasagna

We had a family brunch this morning at Granite City Brewery to celebrate C's grandparents' 60th anniversary and his grandmother's 80th birthday. Brunch was pretty good, complete with cake and ice cream for the celebration, but the cause for celebration was wonderful. 60 years is such an amazing accomplishment in my opinion. C and I have 1 year down, only 59 more to go before the Diamond Anniversary!

The rest of our day was pretty low key. We hit up the Banana Republic Outlet and found some nice additions to C's wardrobe. I spent what seemed like the rest of the day in the kitchen cooking and baking.

We've had a box of lasagna noodles in our pantry for over a year. True story. They were unopened so I'm sure they were still good. Good enough at least. Our light schedule this weekend made it the perfect day to make lasagna for dinner. This was made completely from scratch, and turned out awesome. Probably not the "World's Best Lasagna" as the recipe implies, but it was really good and I would use the recipe again.

I used the recipe below with very minor adaptions. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. I felt like the sausage would add enough fat and we should make a healthier choice to some degree. I omitted the fennel seed because I didn't have it. I also used dried parsley instead of fresh. Mostly because I forgot to pick up fresh parsley at the store. Finally, I didn't read the ingredients close enough and cooked the whole box of noodles instead of just 12 of them. I ended up with 8 extra noodles, and had lots of leftover sauce, so I made an extra layer.

Since I still had 2 extra noodles AND more leftover sauce and cheese, I went ahead and made a few lasagna rolls too. I only baked these for the second 25 minutes, not the full 50 minutes.

Sauce that simmers for an hour and a half. Pre-cooking noodles. And baking for about an hour. This is the epitome of a slow-cooked Sunday meal.

World's Best Lasagna

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 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 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.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Check in tomorrow for cinnamon glazed pecans. They're heavenly!

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