This is probably my most requested recipe. I make a slightly non-traditional lasagna (it contains no ricotta cheese, for instance), and I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t like it (who doesn’t like bacon?!?). This recipe also works well in large batches (e.g., I triple the recipe and make it in a large buffet sized pan to feed 30+ people).
½ pound lasagna noodles
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1½ pounds grated mozzarella cheese
Cream Sauce (see below)
Meat Sauce (see below)
Boil or otherwise prepare lasagna noodles according to package instructions. (I usually use “oven ready” lasagna noodles, which can be used as-is without boiling, and have never had any complaints.)
Spoon a small amount of meat sauce into a 9×13 pan (just enough to thinly cover the bottom).
Add a layer of noodles, meat sauce, cream sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Repeat until ingredients are used up (2-3 layers).
Bake at 375°F, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
If desired, you can prepare this recipe ahead of time and then freeze it. You can then thaw and bake as described above. To cook from frozen, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top.
As mentioned above, you can also prepare this in large batches for large groups. I prepare a triple recipe in a standard full size (20 inch) disposable aluminum chafing pan. I cover this with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Then I remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until golden brown on top. If you want to try this, make sure your oven is big enough first (some older ovens can’t fit a full 20 inch chafing pan). Also, if you want to bake two chafing pans worth at once, you may need to adjust baking time slightly and switch pans between bottom and top rack part-way through cooking to ensure that both are equally browned on top.
To make a gluten free version of this recipe, simply substitute gluten free noodles (e.g., rice noodles). If doing so, be sure to note the gluten free substitution in the cream sauce recipe below.
Final note: Leftovers are not a problem. Simply cut into individual servings and freeze for later use in freezer bags or containers. These microwave nicely.
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
¼ teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
Remove from heat and blend in flour until smooth (I use a whisk for this).
Gradually add milk and cream, stirring until smooth (again, I use a whisk).
Add salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Reduce heat and simmer at a low boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and use immediately.
You can make a gluten-free version of this sauce by using 1½ tablespoons of cornstarch instead of the flour.
1 pound ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup beef stock (or bouillon)
2 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ pound bacon, diced
1 bay leaf
½ cup dry white wine
Brown the ground beef in a four quart or larger pot. Drain thoroughly.
Add tomato sauce, beef stock, vinegar, oregano, basil, nutmeg, garlic, bay leaf and white wine. Stir, and then begin heating the mixture over medium-low heat.
Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter until onions are soft and mushrooms have released their juices. Add to the sauce. If you have enough burners, you can do this step and the next one simultaneously.
Sauté bacon in a skillet until crispy. Drain thoroughly and add to the sauce.
Alternative: You can save yourself some time by using 1 cup of store bought pre-cooked crumbled bacon. (I like to buy a 20 oz. bag from Costco, divide it into sandwich bags in 1 cup increments, and then freeze for later use.)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes.
Remove bay leaf before using or storing.
You can make a version of this more friendly to Islamic dietary restrictions by substituting turkey bacon instead of regular bacon, and by using vegetable stock instead of white wine.
This meat sauce is excellent in lasagna or over just about any type of pasta (spaghetti, tortellini, etc.). It can be frozen for later use. Simply thaw or warm it (as appropriate) in the microwave when you need it.
If desired, this recipe may be multiplied. Simply multiply the ingredients and increase simmer time by 10 minutes per additional recipe. (I often make 6-12 recipes worth at a time and keep it in the freezer for later use.)