Ah, December in the Pacific Northwest. The sky is dreary, gray, and leaking precipitation... and will be for the next seven months. Ugh. Enter the desire for some comfort food - lasagna. It was a favorite of mine growing up (I requested it frequently when I came home to visit from college), and still is a favorite. Discussing lasagna recipes with folks can get a bit heated as everyone I know always has the same line, "my mom's is the best."
And, of course, I think MY mom's is the best. I certainly haven't had one at a restaurant I liked as much. Perhaps it's just one of those things that is just better homemade. It takes a bit of time, and it's great fun to assemble. Anticipation grows at is bakes. And then you have to wait for it to cool a bit so you don't burn off the roof of your mouth. Delayed gratification at its best.
Also, plenty of time for you (and any sous chefs present) to polish off your favorite bottle of red wine, and enjoy hanging out. That's happened...on more than one occasion for me, could you have guessed? 0:-)
I finally got the recipe from my mom a few years ago, but prior to that I would request it for dinner anytime I was home. I distinctly remember one time that she was in the middle of making it when she realized she had no noodles. So my dad dutifully went off to the store to get some. Upon his return, she started to assemble and realized that she had forgotten the ricotta cheese. So it was my turn to go off to the store. Thankfully she didn't forget anything else, but it was pretty funny that she forgot some very key ingredients. (She's going to kill me for telling that story...)
While I was making it this time, the husband was commenting on the order of layering, and for that I gave him a look. Then he said, "Really, this is just a vehicle for cheese, so you can layer it however you want." We really are true, cheese-loving Sconnies. :-)
If you're looking for a down home, tasty, lasagna, I recommend my mom's recipe. Grab a bottle (or two) of your favorite red and some friends, and get cooking!
(my mom's recipe!)
Makes 10-12 large servings
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic equivalent)
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
3 cups tomato juice
2 12-oz. cans tomato paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. lasagna noodles (I'm lazy and buy the oven-ready kind)
1 15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
8 - 12 oz. mozzarella cheese, to your cheesiness preference!
Parmesan cheese, to top off
To make the sauce:
Brown ground beef and onion. Drain if necessary. Add remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes (to meld flavors).
In a 9x13 pan (or larger), first put in some sauce in the bottom. Then layer noodles, sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Continue layering at your discretion. With last layer of noodles, top off with remaining sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until golden and bubbly.