I am planning to host a couple of my girlfriends for dinner tonight. To eliminate some of the work that needed to be done right before dinner, I made lasagna before noon and am putting it in the fridge until 40 minutes before dinner time. Some things (like lasagna) taste better if the flavors can blend for a couple of hours, so this can be made the day ahead too. Prep time: approximately 20 minutes. Serves 3 to 4 people. (You can also easily double this recipe)
8 ounces lasagna noodles
1 pound fresh ground lamb or beef
4 ounces spaghetti sauce (Rao’s is the best if you ask me)
8 ounces grated cheese (I used a blend of cheeses- choose your favorite)
6 slices american cheese
1 green bell pepper
1/2 chopped onion
1 jalapeno pepper (this can be eliminated if you don’t like spicy foods)
Cook the lasagna noodles according to package instructions, then drain and run cold water over the noodles. While noodles are cooking, sauté your lamb or beef in a skillet on the stovetop until thoroughly cooked. Take care not to overcook the meat- take the pan off the burner as soon as you see it is no longer pink. Dump the spaghetti sauce into the pan with the meat and stir until mostly blended.
Spray preferred baking pan with cooking spray or use a paint brush to grease the pan with olive oil. A 13x9inch pan works well for 1 pound of noodles- a bread sized pan or 8×8 inch pan works for 8 ounces of noodles.
Cover bottom of pan with one layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese onto noodles, then spoon some of the meat and sauce mixture (about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle chopped peppers and onions on top. Make a layer of American cheese on top of the meat, then highly sprinkle some of the shredded cheese on top. Sprinkle a little chopped herbs on top of the cheese and crack a little fresh pepper on top.
Add another layer of noodles and continue to layer condiments between noodle layers. The amount of herbs, pepper, cheese and vegetables is completely up to your preference. You can make the lasagna a lot healthier by adding more vegetables and eliminating some of the cheese.
The top layer should be: noodles, meat and sauce, vegetables, cheese and then cracked pepper. Make sure the top layer ends at least 1/2 inch below the pan height so that it won’t cook over the side and into your oven.
Once you have prepared the lasagna and it is high enough for your liking, bake it at 350F for 30 minutes. Let it cool and then put it into the fridge until 45 minutes before you want to serve the lasagna. Bake the lasagna a second time for 40 minutes at 350F. Cheese should be bubbly and golden when you are ready to serve.
If you choose to only bake your lasagna once, you can bake it at 350F for 1 hour or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
Enjoy, and let me know in the comment section what you like to cook for dinner. I am always searching for new recipes!