Searching for "My" Recipe for Lasagna

My older son recently turned 16, and I'm starting to envision a time where he no longer lives at home. He'll decide for himself how much time he'd like to spend with his Mom -- and since I love the kid, I'd like to see him choose to spend some time with me. I figure that one way of ensuring this is by having recipes that I make the best (at least in his eyes). A meal I continue to tinker with is one of his favorites -- lasagna and garlic bread.

I've made both fairly often and I usually cook them without a recipe. Because of this, they come out different every time, and very rarely a "wow.' The lasagna has a tendency to be dry and not flavorful enough, and the garlic bread ranges from not enough garlic to too much.

My most recent attempt at the meal was from Paula Deen -- not because I think she's the greatest Italian cooking, but because her recipe is along the lines of how I usually make these dishes. In her lasagna, she uses  a combination of ground beef and Italian sausage, which is what I usually do. I substituted 1/2 pound of turkey breast for ground beef in an attempt to lighten the dish a bit, which didn't do much to help the flavor or texture. She uses cottage cheese, which I changed to ricotta. She called for oven-ready noodles, but I use regular. The lasagna was good -- my son and husband ate quite a bit -- but wasn't exactly what I'd want my son to call "Mom's Lasagna."  The meat overwhelmed the dish and made it really heavy. It's a good starting point, though. Next time I'll try it with less of the meat and see how that goes.

Next post: Paula's DIVINE garlic bread.

Meaty Lasagna
Adapted from this Paula Deen recipe

1 pounds 90-95% lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground turkey (or you can use a total of 1 1/2 pounds ground beef)
1 pound ground Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Penzey's pizza spice (or you could use oregano)
1 teaspoon ground basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Ricotta cheese (Paula's uses small curd cottage cheese)
5 ounces grated Parmigianno-Reggiano
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
9 lasagna noodles, boiled to al dente
2 (8-ounce) packages shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, combine ground chuck, sausage onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled; drain.

Return meat to pan and add oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine Ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Place 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of the Ricotta cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce, reserving 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

Bake 45 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.


MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College said...

Oh how I love lasagna :-)

This looks so cheesy and wonderful.

Karen Harris said...

Suppertime is one of the only times that I know for sure that I'll see my 16 year old son. Good luck with your quest for the perfect lasagna. I'm sure you son will love it just because you made it with him in mind.

Shelby said...

Grumpy would probably love this lasagna....while Paula Deen irritates him. lol. I love her though. Homey Southern gal - I think she and I could be great friends!

My youngest is going to be 26 this year - and I have to tell you that he is still pretty darn close to his mom! Of course, he is single too. Probably makes a difference. ;)

Karin said...

My daughter doesn't care for ricotta or cottage cheese in her lasagna so I've had to change *my* recipe to suit her tastes. Riffing off Pam Anderson, we make lasagna with a light bechemel (sp?) sauce instead of the ricotta layer. very yummy, very moist.

Lorie said...

I know what you mean by trying to find the perfect recipe. I'm still trying to find the perfect coconut layer cake. I did not grow up eating lasagna so it's kind of new to me, but I love it. I have not tried making real authentic lasagna yet, but I've been using the Pioneer Woman's recipe (cottage cheese!) and everyone raves.