Perfect Lasagna Every Time
Lasagna is a favorite dish we all love. If you’ve ever made your own, you know the disasters that can happen, right?
That delicious meal you’ve ever so tenderly built in a casserole dish comes out. You slice the servings up and before you can get it to the plate, it falls apart. Or, the cheese on top is so rubbery you need a hack saw to pry it apart.
I don’t know about you friends but when I first started making lasagna (way too many years ago to count), it seemed like you went through this big bunch of hootenanny only to wind up with plates full of pasta slop. I like my food to look as good as it tastes. I don’t care how fantastic your ingredients are, if it doesn’t look delicious, it doesn’t taste as good.
So, here are a few pointers I’ve learned about building a beautiful lasagna..
First things’ first. Avoiding excess water in the dish is imperative.
- Strain the ricotta in some cheese cloth or a fine meshed strainer before mixing it with the other ingredients.
- Pat your noodles dry with a paper towel after you boil them.
- Use a thicker sauce like a marinara. (try Easy Marinara Sauce)
- If you are including ground meat in your lasagna, make sure you strain it really well after browning.
Another important aspect to the perfect lasagna every time is how you layer it up. Don’t get all saucy, thinking that you should pour sauce in between layers. Instead, ladle the sauce on after the portions are placed on the plate. In prepping and building, just cover the bottom of the pan and the top of the lasagna after you’ve placed your layers.
The most difficult part of keeping lasagna together is the ricotta layer. When the dish comes out of the oven, that cheese is piping hot and can fall apart if you slice it too quickly. The smooth and creamy center needs time to settle and firm up. That means you should let your lasagna cool for at least 30 minutes before digging in. I know, I know.. the agony! But if you’re going for aesthetically pleasing pasta, patience is required.
Think of it like a cheese cake. These things need babying. Simply spread the mixture over the noodles and top with more noodles, tucking that ooey, gooey deliciousness in safely. The waiting for cooling is just a part of the perfection.
What we love about lasagna are the layers of sauce, meat, noodle and cheese. Keeping all of those things in “layers” is the goal, rather than having a soupy pile of stuff when all is said and done.
When it’s time to bake, cover the dish with foil to keep the top from burning. Poke a few holes in the foil to allow for steam ventilation. Take the foil off for the last ten minutes of baking to dry up any condensation that may have built up.
While you’re waiting for the lasagna to cool and “set” warm the remaining marinara up on the stove. Ladle some in your serving dishes and then on top the slice of lasagna. Not only does this make for a beautiful presentation, it gives the finished dish all the moisture it needs for a delicious bite, every bite.
Finally, to avoid that ninja strength layer of knife repelling mozzarella sitting atop your masterpiece, leave it off. That’s right, don’t bake the final layer of cheese. We’re not making pizza. Right?
Place your beautiful strands of scrumptious cheesy goodness over the individual servings after you have it plated up. That warmed sauce will be just hot enough to give it a touch of melt.
A tasty and beautiful lasagna isn’t difficult. It’s a matter of layering it right and taking your time.
Great ingredients are especially important in building a lovely presentation for your dinner table but a few extra tips always helps. And that’s one thing I love sharing here at Happy Belly Foodie. That little extra know-how will have your loved ones ooing and ahh-ing before they even take the first bite.
Keep it delicious friends, as always. If you’ve got a beautiful dish/recipe you’d love to share, we’d like to see it. You can catch up with Happy Belly Foodie on any of those shiny buttons above or leave us a comment down below.
Till next time ~ much love, Connie
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 1/4 lb ground beef
- 1/4 lb ground pork sausage
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 C shredded mozzarella
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 2 1/2 to 3 C marinara sauce
- mozzarella for topping.
- Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water until half done. Drain the water off and place the noodles flat on dry paper towels to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
- Brown the ground beef and ground sausage in a skillet until done. Drain excess grease off well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the ricotta in cheese cloth or a fine mesh wire sieve to strain the excess water off. Place in a bowl and combine with the egg, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1 tsp salt, oregano and basil. Mix well.
- In a 8" x 11" casserole dish, spread 1/2 cup of the marinara and top with 1/2 of the beef/pork mixture.
- Lay 4 of the lasagna noodles on top, overlapping the edges.
- Smooth half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.
- Lay 4 more of the noodles over the ricotta.
- Smooth the rest of the ricotta mixture over the second layer of noodles.
- Lay 4 more noodles over the second layer of ricotta.
- Ladle 1 cup of the marinara over top and finish with the rest of the beef/pork mixture.
- Cover with foil and poke holes in the top for ventilation.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow the lasagna to rest for 30 minutes before slicing into portions.
- Warm the remaining marinara in a sauce pan.
- Ladle the marinara into serving dishes and top with portions of lasagna.
- Sprinkle mozzarella on top of servings.
Recipe by: Connie Murray @Happybellyffoodie.com