When my husband and I were first dating, one of my favorite meals to impress him with was classic meat lasagna. He had always been a huge spaghetti and meatballs fan, and loved any kind of red sauce pasta. Lasagna happens to be a very beautiful and impressive main course. But what people don’t know about lasagna is that it is relatively easy to make once you get the hang of it.
Lasagna is believed to be one of the oldest types of pasta. It is a flat type of pasta which is layered on top of various ingredients. Classic lasagna is made with a robust tomato sauce, Parmesan and ricotta cheese filling, and the whole dish of lasagna layers is baked in an oven.
This delicious pasta dish originated in the middle ages, otherwise known as the medieval ages. In European history, the ￼timeframe of the medieval ages was sometime between the fifth and 15th century. ￼￼￼We find that the first recording of a lasagna recipe was found in a recipe book written in the 14th century.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that lasagna originated in Italy, Naples to be precise.￼￼ The traditional Naples lasagna, or lasagne de carnevale, included small meatballs, local sausage, and even hard boiled eggs as the filling between the lasagne noodles. The same type of ricotta and Parmesan cheese￼s where are used as a filling, and the sauce was a Neapolitan Ragu meat sauce. ￼
The classic Neapolitan Ragu features Italian soffrito, meat, and tomato sauce. Italian soffrito is a mixture of chopped onions, carrots, and celery that are cooked in olive oil. Soffrito is used as a base for many traditional Italian pasta dishes.
The tomato sauce made for the Neapolitan Ragu was rich in tomato flavor, and enhanced with red wine, butter, and many herbs such as basil. And the meat in the sauce was not minced into small pieces but rather large chunks were used.
Semolina and water were traditionally used in southern Italy for the pasta dough. In the northern region, eggs and flour were used as semolina wasn’t available.
In other regions outside of Naples, lasagna was prepared with various ingredients. Chicken could be used in the meat sauce, and different vegetables could be found. Mushrooms, olives, zucchini, and spinach were commonly used in the filling.
Did you know that there’s a difference between the word lasagne and lasagna? As with most types of pasta, the Italian word is the plural form. So the word lasagne means multiple sheets of pasta, and lasagna means only one sheet. However how you refer to the dish depends on the region. In northern Italy the favored term is lasagne and in southern Italy the preferred term is lasagna! In the United States the term lasagna is most frequently used to describe the dish.
This recipe for classic lasagna is easy, delicious, and will taste like you spent the entire day cooking it. It’s a great main course dish for the holidays or any dinner where you want to impress your attendees (or family)!
What You Need:
1 package lasagne pasta
2 cans Newman’s Own Tomato & Basil tomato sauce
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 cup onion (minced)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup basil (chopped)
1 cup parsley (chopped & divided)
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Sauté onion until translucent, then add garlic. Mix in Italian sausage and ground beef to the onion and garlic mixture and brown the meat.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tbsp of salt, and cook lasagna pasta until al dente.
Now pour in Newman’s Own basil and tomato sauce into the meat mixture, cover and bring to a simmer. Aside from the fact that we love the taste and selection of Newman’s Own sauces, we choose to purchase from this brand because of their ethical beliefs. Newman’s Own donates their sale profits to charities that help sick children, support the military, and improve nutrition.
“What could be better than to hold out your hand to people that are less fortunate than you are?” That’s a quote from Paul Newman, the owner of the company Newman’s Own. Since 1982 over $525 million has been donated to charities. So we’re proud to purchase from a company who truly makes the world a better place.
Taste the meat sauce for seasoning, and now add 1/2 cup of chopped basil. While the meat sauce is simmering and lasagna pasta is cooking, let’s make our ricotta cheese filling. Add the ricotta, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, the egg, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup parsley and combine.
It’s time to assemble our lasagna! In a large casserole dish, spoon in some of the meat sauce to the bottom. Drain lasagna pasta and lay down a layer of pasta in the casserole dish. Spoon over meat sauce, then ricotta cheese mixture, and finally sprinkle a bit of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of lasagna pasta noodles, and repeat the same process until you run out of lasagna noodles, or space in your casserole dish!
For the top, add a generous layer of meat sauce, and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Finally top with chopped basil. Leave some chopped basil and Parmesan to sprinkle on top for serving. The herbs are more vibrant when they haven’t been cooked.
Now cover lasagna with foil, and cook in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. For the last 5-10 minutes remove the foil and cook. When serving, cut into squares and sprinkle the remaining chopped basil and parsley on top.
This stunning main course is sure to impress your family and friends with its grand taste and appearance. When served next to a light salad, you really needn’t anything more for a complete dinner. Enjoy!