Cooking with Claire: Taking it to the next level with lasagna

“Cooking with Claire” is an introduction to dining beyond the dining hall using easy, fast and cheap recipes.

A close up photo of the layers of lasagna. According to Galvin, readers are ready to step it up this week and try a more challenging recipe for this delicious dish. (Jon Sullivan/ Wikimedia Creative Commons)

The time has come to prove your worth and talent. To push past the beginner level to intermediate cook, there’s one dish that I think needs to be mastered. While it’s not an incredibly challenging dish, it does require a bit of patience and knack. It’s time to make lasagna.

The recipe included below uses meat and no-boil lasagna noodles. You could leave out the meat entirely. The meat needs to be cooked before assembling the lasagna, so factor that into your kitchen time. The no-boil lasagna noodles are a lot easier to work with. Besides, why add another step by boiling the pasta first? If you really want to go all out, there are plenty of recipes available that use boiled lasagna noodles.

Ingredients:

  • One (9 ounce) box of no-boil lasagna noodles
  • Two eggs
  • One (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • Four cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • One-half cup parmesan cheese (optional)
  • One pound ground beef or sausage, browned
  • Two (24 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce or two (24 ounce) jars pasta sauce
  • Parsley (to garnish)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In bowl, combine beaten eggs, ricotta cheese and two cups of the mozzarella cheese and parmesan.

If you choose not to use the parmesan, just add more mozzarella. Set aside.

3. In a 13 by 9 by 3 inch pan, spread one cup of sauce on bottom of pan. Layer in this order: four uncooked lasagna noodles (they will overlap), then one-third part of the ricotta cheese mixture, half the browned meat, one cup mozzarella cheese and one cup of spaghetti sauce.

4. Next layer: four uncooked lasagna noodles, one-third part of the ricotta cheese mixture and one-and-one-half cups sauce.

5. Next layer: four uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, remaining meat and one cup of sauce.

6. Top layer: four uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining sauce and remaining one cup mozzarella.

7. Bake covered with foil for 50-60 minutes.

8. Uncover and continue cooking until all the cheese is melted on the top (about five minutes). Garnish with parsley. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

If you are using a 13 by 9 by 2 inch pan, make three layers to avoid boiling over. I usually add a few more spices into all my recipes, so I would add in a few shakes of Italian seasoning to the browned meat while it’s cooking. You could also choose a pasta sauce with spices, such as garlic.

Lasagna is a great meal for entertaining a crowd. This recipe serves 12 people. Lasagna can also be frozen and reheated weeks later for a ready-to- eat hot meal. After the lasagna is cooled and refrigerated, cut into portions, wrap individually and freeze.


Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.