Made with fresh ricotta cheese and Italian sausage
One of the oldest and most popular pasta dishes that is believed to have originated in Naples Italy. This version has four layers of meat and uses fresh ricotta cheese instead of white sauce. With fresh basil and Italian sausage it takes it to another level. It’s fantastic dinner party food as once the work is done, you simply reheat the dish and serve square portions. Plus everyone loves a great Lasagna. This is my version, enjoy!
2 whole eggs
1kg - 2lbs ricotta cheese
250g - 8oz (2 balls) mozzarella cheese
2 cups Parmesan cheese
5 tbs olive oil
Half bunch of fresh basil
1 large carrot
10- 12 button mushrooms (250g - 8 oz)
Salt and pepper
1kg - 2lb Italian sausage mix or sausages.
1kg - 2lb Minced beef
6 cups napolitana sauce (you can buy from a store or see recipe and video here)
1 X 375g - 13oz box of no boil lasgna pasta sheets (noodles) for a 15" x 10" x 3" lasagna pan.
If using Italian sausages, score and peel off the skins.
Chop the mushrooms finely.
Grate the carrot.
To a large pot, add the olive oil on high heat.
Add your minced beef and brown meat breaking up any clumps using a wooden spoon.
Add the Italian sausage mix and brown with beef, continue breaking up any meat clumps.
Add the grated carrot and mix well
Add the chopped mushrooms, mix and continue cooking until all moisture has evaporated.
Add all the Napolitana sauce. You may need to add water if sauce is too thick.
Stir well and simmer gently on very low heat for a minimum of 60 minutes or up to four hours as you keep adding water, the longer the tastier. (let cool down before use)
For the cheese mixture, break the eggs in a mixing bowl.
Add the ricotta cheese.
Chop half the Mozzarella cheese and add to bowl.
Chop the fresh basil, add to bowl.
Grate and add (1 cup) half the Parmesa cheese.
Add one tsp of salt (or less if cheese is very salty)
Add cracked pepper.
Combine all ingredients thouroughly.
Using your lasagna pan, add one quarter of the meat sauce (divide into four parts) and spread out evenly.
Place your first layer of pasta sheets, enough to cover all the meat sauce, any overlap is fine.
Divide your cheese mixture in two and place half of it in blobs over your pasta sheets. Spread evenly to cover.
Add another layer of meat (2nd) over the cheese, spread evenly to completely cover.
Add another layerof pasta sheets (2nd). Pick up the tray and give it a slight shake and a few firm taps to ensure there are no air bubbles trapped.
Add another layer of meat (3rd) over the pasta, spread evenly to completely cover.
Add another layer of pasta sheets (3rd).
Add the remaining half of cheese mixture in blobs over your pasta sheets, spread evenly to cover.
Add the last layer of meat sauce, spread evenly, continue to shake and tap the pan.
Break up the mozzarella cheese and place little pieces over the meat sauce. You still should see plenty of meat sauce in between the cheese pieces.
Sprinkle the remainder of the grated Parmesan cheese to cover the whole pan.
Cover pan with foil and ensure there’s enough gap so it doesn’t touch and stick to the cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes at 180C or 350F.
Remove foil and return to oven for another 15 minutes at 200C or 400F.
Once cooked, leave to cool 20 minutes and cut into squares, 9 or 12 and serve hot.
Always wait 20 minutes before serving.
The longer you cook the meat sauce, the nicer it will taste. 60 minutes is a good start but 4 or even 5 hours will be incredible. Just keep adding water every hour, approx. 1 cup of water, and keep stirring to avoid it sticking to the bottom.
If you're ricotta cheese is very wet, you may need to put it in a strainer overnight to make it firmer. Or try and buy the best firm ricotta cheese you can find.
I've done several tests whether oe not to use "No boil" or "Boil" pasta, I always tend to steer away from modern convenience foods, however this product has amazed me. It's definately not a cop out to use "No boil pasta". This pasta absorbs the sauce and cooks better, nice al dente all the way. Too many advantages, not to mention you skip a cooking step, wow!
You can also stab the lasagna with a toothpick or two, preventing the cheese making contact with the foil.
Lasagna can be a bit of work, but when you consider that you can prepare 12 or more meals in advance and all you need to do is heat it up before serving, it's actually not that much work, freeing you when you hold dinner parties.