So much so that I even shelled out money for an actual Lasagna Pan deep enough to hold all the layers of deliciousness.
Previously, I was using my 9X12 baking pan, but could only fit about half the layers and had to stick other baking sheets below it to catch the inevitable overflow. Since I have been making homemade lasagna more often, now that we have lots of fresh garden tomatoes for sauce, I felt it deserved an appropriately sized pan.
My word, it makes the entire process – from arranging the layers to cleanup – so much easier! As my husband says, you have to have the right tool for the job.
There are easier ways to make homemade lasagna, such as using store-bought sauce, or omitting the meat and spinach. There are also more challenging ways — you could make the noodles and ricotta from scratch too. (um, right, I’ll get right on that!)
This recipe is versatile enough to still give you a great result whether you want to work from scratch, go vegetarian, or switch up the meat. I use ground venison, as that is the healthiest available option for me, but you can use ground beef or turkey just as well. For the homemade sauce, you can use fresh or canned tomatoes. Customize to make it suit the time you have available, and the taste preferences of your own family.
There are a lot of ingredients and steps, but you get 20 servings out of it — enough to serve for company or to freeze for a night (or two) when you don’t feel like cooking. You can also make some parts ahead of time, then assemble and bake in time for dinner.
Editor’s Note: In making a meatless version of the lasagna, I added a little more zest to the sauce by dicing a medium onion, small bell pepper and a couple cloves of garlic. I sauteed them in a Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet until soft, and added them into the sauce.
- 16 ounce package of lasagna noodles
- 32 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 10 ounces chopped spinach (frozen or fresh)
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon parsley
- 2 1/2 teaspoons basil, divided
- 2 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
- 2 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 pounds ground venison (or ground beef or turkey)
- 60 ounces crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Prepare meat: Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in skillet on medium high. Add diced onion and sauté until translucent. Add ground meat, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, salt and ground black pepper. Stir in spices and continue to brown meat until cooked through. Drain well and set aside.
- Prepare sauce: In large saucepan, over medium heat, combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons basil, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Prepare lasagna noodles according to directions on package unless using the kind you don't need to cook first.
- Cook spinach, drain well and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare cheese mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, grated parmesan cheese, 2/3 of the shredded mozzarella, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cooked spinach.
- Now for the fun part! Lightly grease deep baking pan with a little olive oil and start layering by spreading a cup or two of the sauce on the bottom. Next is a layer of 5 lasagna noodles, overlapping the edges, then sauce and meat, and then cheese mixture. Repeat 2 more times if you have room in the pan (This is where having a deep lasagna pan helps. If you don't have one, you can use a regular 9×12 baking pan plus another smaller pan for whatever doesn't fit). Top with a layer of noodles and then sauce.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Re-cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
- There are two options for the noodles: traditional lasagna noodles you partially cook before assembling, and new kinds that you don't have to cook ahead of time. I have used both and not noticed a difference.
- If you omit the meat, add 1 teaspoon onion powder or small onion, diced and sautéed, to sauce.
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