Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mom's Lasagna

Our Church has a great program called "Soup and Salad".   Each spring and fall, groups of 4 couples are randomly assigned and agree to meet once a month and share a meal. The rules are simple:  each couple has a turn at hosting the others and provides the main dish. The non-hosting couples bring either bread, salad or dessert. The hosting couple is not limited to soup, and the meal can be lunch or dinner on any day that is mutually agreeable to all the couples. Finding that day is often the biggest challenge. Clark and I have participated in this program since we arrived in Pocatello 5 years ago and have  found that the casual but intimate setting lends itself to meeting and connecting with folks you might never have otherwise crossed paths with  as well as hearing many varied and interesting stories.   This past weekend we hosted  a meal and met a couple from mainland China  and a man who  had  lived for one year as a child in Poughkeepsie, New York, the city where  I grew up and graduated from High School.  The entertaining is low stress since you only have to provide one part of meal and a clean house when it is your turn to host.  I made lasagna, using the recipe my mother always used. It takes some planning ahead  because her recipe uses home made  sauce, which must be prepared   before you  assemble the dish but the effort is well worth it. Mom would often make it when ahead of time, doubling or tripling the recipe if she expected a crowd and freezing it.  I made  a large pot of sauce a couple days ahead and served a  spaghetti meal to my family.  The day before "Soup and Salad" I cooked the noodles, mixed up the cheese filling and assembled the dish using the remainder of the sauce.   I refrigerated it  and popped it into the oven an 45 minutes  before the guests arrived.

Mom's Lasagna

Meat Sauce
Early in the day, make  meat sauce.

6 each sweet and hot Italian sausage
1 lb of low fat hamburg
1 large can tomato puree
1 cup water
2 cans diced tomatoes.
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2  teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons dried basil
3 Tablespoons dried orgeno
3 Tablesopons dried parsley

Remove casing from sausage. In dutch oven, saute hamburg, sausage breaking meat into small pieces with spoon until meat is browned. Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is transparent. Add remaining ingredients.  Stir. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

 Ricotta Filling

In medium size bowl, mix well the following ingredients and set aside.
4 cups ricotta (1 2lb container)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons parsley
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 lb mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (shredded in package is OK as well)

Grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb box of lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (1 box will fill a 15  x 10 pan)


 Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a 15 x 10  pan.

-Add layer of noodles. Noodles should overlap slightly and cover bottom of pan.
- Spread1/3 of the remaining sauce on top of the noodles.
-spread 1/2 the ricotta filling on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with a generous amount of grated  Parmesan cheese.
- layer 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

Repeat above layers.

Finnish with layer of noodles, remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella and top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake 375°F for 30 minutes or until middle is cooked and cheese on top is lightly browned.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

This freezes well so it can be made ahead of time. Be sure to thaw before cooking. Cooking time will increase.

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