The recipe makes a single 9x13 dish, but I like to double it and divide into four 8x8 pans -- that way we can have one for dinner (with some leftovers), put one in the freezer for later and give two to friends (who will be so impressed and grateful -- seriously, try it sometime).
Another trick that makes this recipe even easier -- when my husband makes his fantastic spaghetti meat sauce (with peppers, mushrooms, and other magic), I set some aside to mix with a jar of pasta sauce so that I can skip step two below.
The Best Lasagna
- 1 lb. ground beef or turkey (or cooked chicken, Italian sausage, seafood, andouille, Gimme Lean, etc.)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 26-28 oz. (about 3 cups) pasta sauce
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp red wine (optional)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I use light)
- 2 tbsp white wine (optional)
- 12 oz (3 cups) freshly grated mozzarella (I use pre-shredded)
- 6-8 no-boil lasagna noodles (I use 8 -- be sure they're no-boil or it doesn't work)
- 2 cups cooked, well-drained broccoli, spinach, peas, mushrooms or other vegetables (optional)
- 1 cup (about 4 oz) freshly grated parmesan (I use pre-shredded, but not the powdered kind)
- Heat oven to 400. Grease a 9x13-inch pan (or two 8x8-inch pans).
- Thoroughly cook the ground beef, garlic and herbs in a large skillet, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Season to taste and add the red wine, if using. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add cream cheese, turn heat to low and whisk until smooth, about 6 minutes.
- Spoon half the meat sauce into the pan as evenly as possible. Sprinkle 1 cup grated mozzarella over the meat mixture. Top with 3-4 lasagna noodles.
- If using vegetables, toss them evenly over the noodles.
- Pour the cream cheese sauce over the noodles and cover with another cup of grated mozzarella.
- Arrange 3-4 lasagna noodles over the cheese, then spoon remaining meat mixture over noodles as evenly as possible. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and the grated parmesan.
- Bake until brown and bubbling, 35-45 minutes (use the longer cooking time if lasagna prepared in advance and chilled).
- Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.