I gave you a heads up yesterday that today (7/29) was National Lasagna Day. You know that I just had to celebrate such an event (and just another FYI that tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day). Lasagna is one of those items that I am kind of picky about; I don’t like just any lasagna. For that reason I prefer to just eat my own homemade versions. This is what I came up with tonight. It was delicious if I do say so myself!
robyns meat lasagna

PASTA
  • 1 box of lasagna.

I prefer the curly edge type, but whatever works for you. Cook them according to the package directions – be sure to add salt to your water. When they are done remove them from the water and it helps to put a bit of olive oil on them and just lay them out (stacked is ok) so they don’t stick to each other.

RICOTTA/PARMESAN LAYER

  • 16oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese (the canned cheese doesn’t work well in this recipe)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Combine all ingredients well. Set aside until assembly.

SPINACH LAYER

  • 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach

Unwrap the spinach and defrost it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. When done, put inside a clean kitchen towel and squeeze well to get the extra liquid out. Just use your hands to spread/pull the spinach back apart before using in the spinach layer.

MOZZARELLA LAYER

  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella

You need to divide this into two 1 cup portions. I just use the regular pre-shredded bag type for this.

MEAT SAUCE

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 3/4 lb ground sirloin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium white onions – finely chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic – roughly chopped
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cans (14.5oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 4-6 leaves fresh basil – cut into thin strips

Brown sausage and sirloin in large skillet. You want the meat in small pieces. Remove from pan and set aside (drain if needed). In same pan add olive oil and heat up. Then add the onion and garlic and saute for about 6 or 7 minutes until they have some color. Now add in balsamic vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, dried Italian seasoning, and salt. Stir to combine. Once combined add in all the tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add fresh basil (if you need to use dried basil add it with the other dried seasonings
instead). Add the browned meat back in and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so and then remove from the heat.

LAYERING

1. Bottom of pan – just a little sauce
2. Layer of pasta
3. spinach
4. 1 cup mozzarella cheese
5. layer of pasta
6. 1/2 the remaining pasta sauce
7. layer of pasta
8. ricotta/Parmesan layer
9. layer of pasta
10. remaining pasta sauce
11. 1 cup mozzarella cheese
12. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes covered, then 30 minutes uncovered. Let set 15 minutes before serving. Use a serrated knife to cut portions – this helps in serving quite a bit. Serve with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.