September 25, 2012

My Most Popular Recipe

By popular, I mean the most requested by my kids and my sister (which I take as a particularly wonderful compliment because she is a much better cook than I), and which recipe I have given out more than others. And it is so ridiculously easy. Not particularly healthy though.

I was surprised to find that I did not already put it on the blog. I guess I didn't bother because I already know this one so well that I don't need to write it down. I make it so often that I stockpile lasagna noodles when they are on sale.

So here it is:

The Easiest Lasagna Recipe Using Regular Lasagna Noodles Ever. No, really.

Once again the ingredients are important, so pay attention to my notes, please. Thank you.

Abt 8 regular lasagna noodles (not the no cook kind, although you are not going to cook them ahead of time)
Abt 24 oz ricotta cheese. Now let's talk a minute about the cheese. I have lived just about all of my life on the east coast in a heavy Italian populated area. So we do not put cottage cheese in our Italian cooking instead of ricotta. Is it just as good? I have no idea, because I have never tried it. It may be easier to spread than ricotta, but I'm sticking with the ricotta.  And by the way, around here it is pronounced rig-GOT, not rick-cot-a. But if you do not live in a heavily Italian populated area, (or in the northeast) and you asked for rig-got, they probably would have no idea what you are talking about. And no one laughs at you if you say rick-cot-a instead. They just think that you do not have an ounce of Italian in you. I'll have you know that I am 1/500 Italian. I don't think that counts.

And while we are talking about Italian pronunciations, do you know that there are still pizza places around here that spell it APIZZA? It is pronounced a-beets, not peetsa. But really it is just the old timers that call it a-beets; peetsa has become the norm. But when I was a kid I didn't understand why there was an A in front of the word pizza.

Ingredients?  Oh yea,

lasagna noodles (see above)
ricotta cheese (see above)
1 pound (or thereabouts) of mozzarella cheese, shredded (pronounced mootz-a-rella, and some drop the a at the end)
abt 1/4 C parmesian cheese
32 ounce tomato/pasta sauce.  Here is the thing. You do not want a thick, sweet sauce like Ragu or Prego. I buy Sclafani, but that may not be available nationwide. My sister used Francesco Rinaldi marinara and it was very good too.


Lastly, and optional, 1 pound ground beef

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily adapt it to your liking, and measurements do not have to be exact. The sauce is really the most important choice you are going to make.

So here is what you do:

Brown ground beef if you are using it, then add sauce and 3/4 C of water and heat. (If you are not using ground beef, you can pour the sauce right from the jar into the lasagna pan without heating it first and don't add water)

Layer ingredients in a 9x13 baking pan as such:

@ 1/3 sauce
@ 4 lasagna noodles - uncooked (or as many as will make a nice layer in your pan. Snap off some of the noodle to make it fit.)
@ 1/2 of ricotta cheese
@ 1/2 of shredded mozzarella
@ 1/8 C parmesian cheese (I do not measure, just give it a good shake all over)
@ 1/2 of remaining sauce
another 4 noodles
rest of ricotta cheese
rest of mozzarella cheese
1/8 C (or good shake all over) parmesian cheese
rest of sauce

Yes, the noodles will slip around on you as you try to spread the ricotta. It will get messy. No one cares. Just do the best you can, but don't worry, it will still taste great.

Cover pan
Bake @ 375 for about an hour (edges should be bubbly)
Let sit for about 10-15 minutes
EAT!

This is a very saucy version (hence why it is important to choose a good sauce), so serve some bread with it to help eat up the sauce.

It seems like a lot of work because I go on and on, but it is really easy, as lasagnas go, and everyone loves it. It will be whipping up two for my brood. It was my soon-to-be 14 year old's birthday dinner request.

Maybe I will take pictures and add them later. Maybe.

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