Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lasagna (with meatballs, if desired)

Printable Recipe

This is not the traditional lasagna recipe, in that it does not have ricotta or cottage cheese (blech!). I have always made the meat sauce using browned hamburger. However, I recently have begun making meatballs, baking them, and crumbling the meatballs in place of the browned hamburger. Wow, what a difference that makes! When I make meatballs, I do not follow a recipe, but just use estimated amounts. I will tell you the approximate amounts I use at the end of the recipe here, but if you want to find your own, feel free to do so.

Note: I will give you the original amounts for the sauce, but please know that it does not stretch very easily, for the entire pan of lasagna. It will work, though. My mother made it this way for years, and it was fine. Just don't taste too much of the sauce while you're preparing it. Lately, I've been doubling the sauce recipe, but I do not always use all of the sauce. It can get a little soupy if I do. Just play around with this recipe. I think that either way, you'll really like it.

1 1/2 lbs hamburger
1 (1 lb-13 oz) can Italian plum tomatoes (It helps to use actual plum tomatoes. I don't know if they are juicier or what, but it does help the sauce to stretch.)
1 (6-oz can) tomato paste
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil leaves, or to taste
1/2 - 1 tsp oregano leaves, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

8-oz pkg lasagna noodles (or a total of 9 noodles)
1 (8-oz) pkg shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown the hamburger, drain. Add the tomaotes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, salt, basil, oregano, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to pkg directions.

In a greased 9 x 13" pan, spread a thin layer of the sauce. Top with 3 of the lasagna noodles, and then 1/3 of the Mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, ending up with a layer of sauce on top, then the last bit of Parmesan cheese on top of that. Bake 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Let sit for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting into.

If you are going to make meatballs, in place of the browned hamburger:
1 1/2 lbs hamburger
2 eggs
3 slices bread, cut into small pieces OR about 1/2 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
a little milk, maybe 2 tbsp

Mix the above together and form into smallish meatballs. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the meatballs in a 400 degree oven, for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until done and no longer pink in the center. Cool slightly, and crumble up. Prepare sauce as directed, and add the cooked, crumbled meatballs. Proceed with the rest of the recipe, as directed.

This way is oh, so good!

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