I cut this recipe years ago off of a box of manicotti noodles and adapted it to lasagna. In case you’re wondering, lasagna is MUCH easier to make than manicotti and I’m a firm believer in making things as easy as possible for myself. If you are a glutton for punishment you can actually stuff the cheese mixture in the manicotti shells (I will do this once or twice a year because it does seem a little fancier) or you can take the easy way out and just follow my adaptation.
Lasagna is one of my favorite meals. It’s easy to make, stores well in the freezer and warms up great for leftovers. The kids aren’t huge lasagna fans but since I’m the mama and the chef this is a regular in our winter rotation.
I package of lasagna noodles
1 pound Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 gloves garlic – minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil leaves (sometimes I just use Italian seasoning)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. In large skillet (medium heat) brown sausage. After pouring off fat (I actually rinse the meat to remove additional fat) add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan cheeses and egg; mix well.
Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan with non stick spray and lay first layer of noodles (if you would like you can add a small amount of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture over first layer of noodles, top with 1/3 mixture of tomato sauce. Repeat for two more layers ending with tomato sauce mixture.
Bake in a 350 oven for about 35 minutes or until hot and bubble. Top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese has melted.
I do make some variations to this recipe. First of all I don’t use canned tomatoes unless I don’t have any tomatoes in my freezer. I pull the frozen tomatoes out of my freezer, pull the skin off and add to the meat. I really can’t tell you exactly how many tomatoes I add since I just do it by sight, once it gets to the right consistency I’m good. It’s usually about 5 tomatoes give or take depending on their size. I’ve also added mushrooms or other vegetables to the meat/tomato mixture while it’s cooking if I have something I want to use up.