I recently hosted my husband's colleagues. It was a big group, so I needed something that would feed a lot of people while not tying me up in the kitchen. I thought Italian would be the best option and Lasagna would be perfect. While everyone seems to have a favorite lasagna recipe, and I, myself, have made several variations in the past, my mom's lasagna always comes out perfectly. I wanted to share it and also keep it for posterity. I'm not sure where the recipe comes from, but this is what she uses:
1 lb ground beef
1 lb lasagna noodles (no need to cook!)
32 oz tomato sauce
1 lb ricotta (or cottage cheese)
1 egg (my addition for easier spreading ability)
1/2 lb shredded mozzarella
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. In a saucepan, brown meat. Drain fat and add sauce to the meat.
3. Mix 1 egg with ricotta cheese.
4. On the bottom of a 9x13 pan, pour 1 C of meat mixture, then layer:
1/2 noodles, 1/2 ricotta cheese/egg mixture, 1/2 mozzarella cheese, (1/2 parmesan cheese,) sauce, repeat.
5. Cook at 375 for about 30 minutes or until noodles are done, cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
It's perfect as it is, but there are so many ways to vary this recipe. My mom has made a half beef, half Italian sausage mixture which turns out well. I roasted some red and yellow peppers with 1/2 onion that I then mixed with the ricotta cheese mixture. It was yummy! To be a bit healthier, you could use whole wheat noodles, easily cut out the parmesan cheese, use the mozzarella cheese sparingly, and make sure you are using a lowfat ricotta. It's also a great recipe to sneak in vegetables. I've used fresh spinach in the past. If you make your own sauce, there is so much you can add and the kids won't even notice it! Enjoy!