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Classic meat and cheese lasagna

Classic Meat and Cheese Lasagna: A Hearty Italian Favorite

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Lasagna is a classic Italian dish that’s beloved for its layers of pasta, rich meat sauce, and gooey cheese. This recipe for Classic Meat and Cheese Lasagna delivers all the comforting flavors you crave in a convenient and easy-to-make format. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or feeding a crowd, this hearty lasagna is sure to be a hit at the table.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried oregano
  • 2 24-ounce (700 ml) good-quality Italian pasta sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 12 – 16 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 3 cups (750 ml) ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups (500 ml) mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Meat Sauce: In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic, and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the Ground Beef: Add the lean ground beef to the skillet with the onion and garlic. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Season the Meat Mixture: Stir in the dried basil and dried oregano, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Add the Pasta Sauce: Pour the Italian pasta sauce into the skillet with the cooked meat mixture. Add the water to the sauce jar, swish it around to rinse out any remaining sauce, and pour it into the skillet as well. Stir to combine, and simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  5. Prep the Noodles: Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water to prevent sticking.
  6. Assemble the Lasagna: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of cooked lasagna noodles on top of the sauce, followed by a layer of ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of cheese on top.
  7. Bake: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the lasagna in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges are golden brown.
  8. Serve: Allow the lasagna to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley, if desired.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Vegetarian Option: Skip the ground beef and use a mixture of sautéed vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers instead.
  • Add More Flavor: Enhance the sauce with a splash of red wine, a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat, or a handful of chopped fresh herbs like basil and parsley.
  • Make Ahead: Assemble the lasagna ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight. When ready to bake, simply pop it in the oven and add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • Keto Version: Substitute the lasagna noodles with thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant to reduce the carb content. Use a keto-friendly marinara sauce or make your own using fresh tomatoes and herbs.
  • Low-Carb Version: Use low-carb lasagna noodles made from almond flour or coconut flour. Alternatively, use layers of thinly sliced deli meat such as turkey or chicken as a low-carb option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta? A: Yes, cottage cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta cheese in this recipe. Simply blend the cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth before using.

Q: Can I freeze leftovers? A: Yes, lasagna freezes well. Allow the leftovers to cool completely, then slice into portions and wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Place the wrapped portions in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake in the oven until heated through.

Q: Can I make this ahead of time? A: Absolutely! You can assemble the lasagna ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking. This is a great time-saving option for busy weeknights or when entertaining guests.

With layers of hearty meat sauce, creamy ricotta cheese, and gooey melted mozzarella, this Classic Meat and Cheese Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food indulgence. Whether you’re craving a cozy family dinner or hosting a dinner party, this timeless Italian dish is sure to impress. With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, you can enjoy the comforting flavors of homemade lasagna with minimal effort. So gather your ingredients and get ready to savor every delicious bite of this crowd-pleasing favorite!

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