Boy it has been a long, long, looooong time since I’ve made lasagna, and I would like to thank the #365Recipes project for giving me an excuse to bring it back into my life, even if momentarily.

As you may know, I have been steadily cutting meat out of my diet in favor of a vegetarian (even sometimes vegan) way of life.  I know I will never be 100% vegetarian or vegan, at least not in the very near future – I do still love meat, particularly red meat.  I just think that my instances of eating meat will become less and less over time, gradually, most likely, to none at all.  But I am not quite there yet, and I just can’t envision a ‘plain’ lasagna, as much as I love cheese.  So here you have my meat consumption for the week in the form of a serving at dinner the other night and a few servings for lunches this week.  ?

This is another one of those recipes that I dug out of the archives.  I used to make lasagna all the time when I was first learning how to cook – so often, in fact, that I went to a store to buy one of those countertop glass canisters that was tall enough to hold the curly lasagna noodles!  But lasagna is a labor of love, and things like moving and college and career paths and pets and a baby gradually nudged lasagna off my weekly menu plans.

I couldn’t even tell you where this recipe originally came from, but I can tell you that I have modded it quite a lot over the years.  I do recall the original recipe calling for big cans of diced tomatoes, which work just fine if you like a runny red sauce.  Once I discovered crushed tomatoes I switched to using those.  I believe I also upped the tomato paste content because I love a thick, meaty red sauce.  And the ricotta mixture has been modified to use only egg yolks instead of full eggs, because egg yolks alone result in an amazingly creamy ricotta layer that makes this lasagna just heavenly.

Lasagna is not an easy dish to photograph.  Professionals will let the lasagna cool down almost entirely before cutting into it and putting it on a plate to properly display all the delicious layers.  Who has time for that?  I want to eat my lasagna when it’s hot, and one of the things you should know about this food blogger is that she eats what she cooks, so seconds after a photo is snapped, she is shoving that food into her face!

I don’t let my lasagna “cool” or “come to room temperature”.  Pffft.  I like to photograph food the way it’s going to be eaten.  I don’t know anyone who waits till it cools down.  ?

This is all a nice way of saying, excuse the photo, just trust me and make the recipe.  Have I ever let you down?

Labor of Love that Serves Many

1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Oregano, basil, and other Italian seasonings to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
30oz ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
4 egg yolks
Minced fresh parsley and basil
Lasagna noodles (cooked or no-boil) (I used 12 flat no-boil noodles)
Lots of shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese (about 16oz)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brown the ground beef and sausage together in a small stock pot (I use an 8qt stock pot), and drain. In the same pot, saute the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes until onions are soft and translucent. Add the drained meat back to the pot, and stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and desired seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes or until thick.

2. Stir ricotta, 1 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, egg yolks, and fresh herbs together until well combined. Set aside.

3. Spray the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish (preferably 13×9) with cooking spray. Lay down a single layer of lasagna noodles. Depending on what kind of noodles you buy, you may have to overlap or tear some of the noodles to cover the bottom (and to cover the rest of the layers). Next layer is ricotta, then meat sauce, then a healthy layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers in this fashion until you run out of something, ensuring you have reserved enough mozzarella cheese to cover the top (do not add this last layer of mozzarella just yet).

3. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. When finished, remove from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. At this point you may also sprinkle with some extra Parmesan (which browns nicely) and extra Italian seasonings if you want (I go for oregano). Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes more, or until the cheeses on top are melted and browned. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving (or…. not).