It’s cold outside, there is a fire in the fireplace, and the house feels warm and cozy. Every season has something to look forward to—and for many during the winter months it is the feel-good comfort foods.
When it comes to comfort foods, my family has its favorites. Even now that they are all grown and raising their own families, they still enjoy it when I make their childhood favorites.
I have been making this lasagna recipe for 35 years and have learned some tips along the way to make this the best lasagna I have found (my family would agree!). I’ll give you some of these tips throughout the recipe.
Makes 8 Generous Servings
- 1 lb lean ground beef (Quality makes a difference. I prefer organic or fresh ground steak from the butcher.)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. *honey
- 10 1/2 oz of tomato puree (you may need to use one 6oz can plus 4oz of second can –
- you can just eye it)
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 6 lasagna noodles (my favorite is fresh but they all work well, even the ones you don’t
- have to precook – you can also use thin slices of zucchini and/or summer squash sliced
- the long way for gluten free – it’s delicious!)
- 2 lbs Ricotta cheese
- ¼ lb. Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
Brown the meat, onion, and green pepper in a large skillet, breaking up the meat in small pieces. Add the garlic, seasonings, honey, tomato puree, and tomato sauce. Rinse the cans with a little water, appx. 2 Tablespoons per can, and add to mixture. ( I often make the sauce ahead of time and then assemble the lasagna just before cooking.)
Allow the sauce to simmer while cooking the noodles following package directions. (If you use zucchini or summer squash you do not need to pre-cook).
Pour one fourth of the sauce into a 13×9 pan. Place three of the noodles over the sauce. Next add **half the Ricotta cheese then half of the Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with generous amounts of Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers using half of the remaining sauce, and all the noodles and cheese. ***Pour remaining sauce over the top; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbling around the edges.
*Don’t leave the honey out – it makes the tomato taste less “tomato-y”, and is a good trick for any tomato sauce that you need to tone down a bit.
**This will seem like a lot of Ricotta cheese. Just spoon “dollops” over the noodles until you have used up the right amount of the cheese.
***You will find you don’t have much sauce to spread at this step. Just spoon the sauce on and then gently spread it over as much of the top as you can. You will find the amount of liquid is correct when it cooks – it is not too dry.
Adapted from Joy With Honey by Doris Mech, 1979