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Today we’re going back to the basics with a simple homemade lasagna recipe. As much as I love the funky recipes like these melon and tofu spring rolls or this beef stew and french onion soup hybrid, I also love classics. When it really comes down to it, the food I most crave are the comfort food classics I grew up eating.
Like lasagna. I’m such an addict when it comes to Italian food though. I could eat pasta with some sort of sauce, olive oil, crispy italian bread and proscuitto every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it. I’ve been all over the world and some of the most memorable meals I can remember come from my trip to Italy with my family in 2010.
That trip was so special for a multitude of reasons, but it really changed the way I think of food and eating all together. I saw how much the Italians savored every bite, how meal time was a time to catch up with friends and family. Food wasn’t just something to eat to pass the time to get your nutrients, it was romantic and sensual. I came home with an entire new appreciation for eating, serving and cooking.
I like to say I held onto that feeling, but when I was busting out recipe after recipe for the past 3 years of my life, I kind of lost it. I turned from cooking with love to cooking for money and income. Even though I’ve been out of that world for 3 months now, it’s still taking me time to find that happiness I once had in the kitchen.
I will say, though, it’s coming back in spurts and certain foods really ignite that Italian mentality when I’m cooking, like this simple homemade lasagna. It’s not a complicated dish or an expensive one, but it’s one that just brings back so many amazing memories of growing up with my mom in the kitchen. It’s one that you can’t just shovel down in front of the tv. Every bite should be savored and tasted. That’s why I love Prego’s Farmer’s Market Marinara sauces – they taste like something you’d have at a mom and pop shop in Italy, but you can simply hop over to your nearest Walmart and add that fresh, homemade taste to your own lasagna with ingredients you’d find at your nearest farmers market or favorite Italian market, without the $1,000 plane ticket.
I realize how crazy, corny and “Eat Pray Love” that sounds, but it’s true. This was the first meal in a long time that my husband and I just ate, together, with a bottle of wine and no background noise. And if a dish can turn us away from our TV rut, it deserves at least a blog post, don’t you think?
Simple Homemade Lasagna
Serves about 12. Inspired by All Recipes.
Prep time: About 45 minutes – 1 hour
Cook time: 40 – 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
- 16 ounces lasagna noodles
- 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 92/8)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots **
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 4 1/2 cups Prego® Farmers’ Market classic marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Dash of sugar
- Dash of salt and cracked black pepper
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (16 ounce jar) (or precisely one pound of low-fat ricotta)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature (I used brown ones)
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
*Sub in store bought if you don’t have time to make it from scratch.
** Use onions if you’d prefer.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and add a dash of salt. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until al-dente, about 8 – 10 minutes. Place in a colander and rinse in cold water, set aside.
- Meanwhile, add the ground beef to a large skillet and cook, over medium-high heat, until golden brown. Drain excess fat (reserving one tablespoon) and place in a large bowl. In the same skillet with the fat, add the shallots, garlic cloves and chopped mushrooms. Cook on medium low until fully caramelized and vegetables are softened. Return the beef to the skillet and pour in the sauce, chopped fresh herbs (parsley and basil), dried seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and dash of sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until thickened.
- In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, eggs and parmesan cheese. Stir until thick and mixed.
- To layer the lasagna, scoop about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce into the bottom of the pan and spread with a spatula. Top with 3 – 4 lasagna noodles. Top with 1/2 cup of cheese mixture, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of sauce and another 3 – 4 noodles. Repeat until the cheese and noodles have been used. Top remaining noodles with sauce.
- Cover the remaining sauce with slices of fresh mozzarella and a dash of pepper.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
- Serve immediately with a dash of fresh parsley.
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 16.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 40 grams
Fiber: 5.5 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 10