Kel’s Classic Lasagna, Comfort Food for a Crowd

Kel's classic lasagna

One of my favorite go-to dishes to make at large get-togethers is classic lasagna. After all, what’s not to love? It’s practically guaranteed to turn out great, since you really can’t go wrong with pasta, meat sauce and lots of yummy, yummy cheese baked together for comfort food at its best.

For this particular lasagna, I used my homemade marinara sauce, which is quite garlic-y, so I did not add any additional garlic. But if you’re using your favorite jarred sauce from the grocery store, I’d add 4-5 cloves to the mix. If you have any meat sauce left over, save it, since the sauce in the lasagna gets absorbed by the noodles when refrigerated (if you have any leftover lasagna, that is!) Also, you can make the sauce the day before, which not only saves time the next day, but also adds more intensity to the flavor of the sauce. Just heat it before you get ready to assemble the lasagna.

Ingredients (Serves 18-20)

Kel's classic lasagna ingredients

  • 1 box (16 oz.) lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced small
  • 1 cup celery, diced small
  • 4-5 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground hot Italian sausage
  • 1 quart marinara sauce
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole plum tomatoes
  • ¼ cup or so good red wine (don’t use it if you won’t drink it!)
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 container (32 oz.) Ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese (thinly slice ¾ of it, and then grate the other quarter.)
  • 10 slices provolone cheese

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles and cook until al dente (follow directions on package.) Drain well.

Place lasagna noodles in pot

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil to medium. Add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add the ground beef, season it with salt and pepper to taste, and break it apart as it browns.

Add ground beef to celery and onions

Drain well.

Drain ground beef

In the same skillet, brown the sausage, and again drain well. (My Pampered Chef Mix and Chop tool makes it easy to break apart the meat as it browns!)

Brown Italian sausage

In a large pot, mix together Marinara sauce, tomato sauce and whole plum tomatoes, which you will want to break apart (I use my Pampered Chef salad choppers for this, but clean hand will work as well!)

Chop whole tomatoes with Pampered Chef Salad Choppers

Add the ground beef, sausage, red wine, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and mix well. Let simmer for an hour or so.

Kel's Bolognese Sauce

In a large bowl, add the Ricotta cheese, eggs, and Parmesan and mix well. I also added a few shakes of the Italian seasoning and some seasoned salt to the mix, but that’s optional.

Mix eggs, ricotta, etc.

Now you’re ready to layer the lasagna in a 9”x13” casserole dish, and here’s how to do it:

Layer 1: Cover the bottom of your dish with a thin layer of the sauce. Place 4 noodles on top of the sauce.

Beginning of Kel's lasagna Layer 1

Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles.

Spread noodles with ricotta mixtures

Top with the provolone slices.

Add the provolone slices

Layer 2: Add enough sauce to cover the provolone, add 4 noodles, the rest of ricotta mixture, and top with the mozzarella slices.

Add mozzarella slices

Layer 3: Add another thin layer of sauce, 4 more noodles and then more sauce.

Layer 4: Top with the grated mozzarella cheese.

Final layer!

Bake for 60 minutes, and let stand for 15 minutes or so before serving. I like to place aluminum foil under the casserole dish in case any of the sauce, etc. drips.

Yum-o!

This goes great with a salad, bread, and a big glass of red wine!

Let's eat!

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe

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