Almost 20 years ago, my smart friend (and Ski House Cookbook co-author) Tina taught me this valuable life lesson: never make just one lasagna.
See, lasagna is no small effort. I'm sure we could point our browsers to several dozen fabulous food blogs right now where even more artful foods are prepared, styled and photographed twice a day. (The 8-layer faux asparagus cake springs to mind.) But at 1.5 hours in the kitchen, lasagna is about as labor intensive as I can fathom on a weeknight. That's why I always make two: one for tonight, and one for the freezer.
Now, isn't that good advice? One night, this month or next, I'll use my get-out-of-jail free card, which will be waiting in the freezer. And that will feel great.
The following recipe is large enough to make two lasagnas, each one will serve 4-6.
(I don't have two identical pans, so one of them goes in a 9x13 glass pyrex dish and the other in a square pan with higher sides. Feel free to improvise.)
Here's my straight up meat-and-red-sauce recipe:
1 large onion, diced
2 lbs (humanely raised grass fed organic Vermont) ground beef
2 large or 4 small garlic cloves
1 32oz tub of ricotta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
12 oz. no-boil lasagna noodles (or regular noodles, cooked)
1 and a half 32 ounce jars of marinara sauce
8 ounces shredded mozzerella
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion until beginning to brown. Add the beef and garlic. Crumble and cook until no longer pink.
Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, eggs and 1/2 cup of the parmesan. Set aside.
Spoon just enough sauce into both baking dishes to barely cover the bottom. Cover with noodles. Then spread 1/4 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles first in one dish and then the other. Set aside the other half of the cheese mixture. Cover cheese mixture with another layer of noodles.
Spread the cooked meat evenly over the noodles in both pans, serving all of it out. Next apply about 1/3 of the total amount of sauce. Cover with another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining ricotta next. Add another layer of noodles. Cover with a generous layer of sauce, and then sprinkle with shredded mozzerella.
Cover one lasagna with foil and bake 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered. Serve hot, with the remaining parmesan cheese.
The other lasagna: cover with foil and freeze. When frozen, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag and replace in the freezer. Cook as above, but for 50 minutes covered and perhaps 30-45 uncovered. Lasagna is cooked when a knife inserted into the middle comes out hot.