My family loves lasagna for family dinner. It’s always a filling meal that’s packed with flavor. I’ve found it to be satisfying anytime of the year. I think it’s so yummy that my family would eat it a couple of times a week if I’d make it that often. I do try to make it for our family dinner time about every six or eight weeks.
There are many recipes for lasagna around the internet and I’ve tried a few from time to time. But, I always come back to the first one I learned to make when I was a teenager.
It’s a fairly basic recipe and the ingredients are easy to find. On top of that I keep most of them on-hand so I can make it anytime we’re in the mood for a good lasagna.
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How to Make Italian Style Meat Lasagna
This recipe has several steps. So it’s important to plan ahead when making lasagna from scratch. You’ll need to first cook a batch of meat sauce. My Italian meat sauce recipe is the very one I use for this lasagna recipe.
It can be used for a variety of Italian style dishes and I often use it for spaghetti, baked rigatoni, or served over rotini. The uses are limitless really.
I like to cook the meat sauce in a large large cast iron skillet.
While you are cooking the meat sauce put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil, follow the directions on the lasagna package box to cook the noodles.
I prefer to pre-cook my noodles because I like the texture better than the noodles you don’t have to cook. But, if your preference is the latter, go ahead and use those.
I also like the noodles that have the ridges because I like the added texture while I’m eating. You choose what you like best.
You’ll need 6-9 noodles for this dish. The number depends on the number of layers you want to make. for a 13×9 baking dish, you can lay the three noodles across the pan. For two layers you’ll need six noodles and for three layers you’ll need nine noodles.
For smaller dishes you will need to decide how many noodles will fit your pan.
While the meat and noodles are cooking you can mix up your ricotta cheese mixture. I usually use dried basil but if I have it on hand I will switch to fresh basil. Mix together ricotta cheese, an egg, and basil.
Once all of your elements are prepared, drizzle olive oil in the bottom of your baking dish and begin layering the lasagna. I prefer a layer of noodles on the bottom, then the ricotta cheese, then meat sauce and then layer the mozzarella cheese on top. I do 2 to 3 total layers depending on the depth of my dish. Once you’ve completed the layers, sprinkle a little parmigiano regianno on top.
Ingredients for Italian Style Meat Lasagna
- meat sauce
- lasagna noodles
- ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- dried basil (or if you have it, use fresh)
- fresh parsely (or you can use dried)
- salt and black pepper
- mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Parmigianino Reggiano cheese
Can You Make Lasagna Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can pre-make a lasagna and store it in the fridge for up to three days. Place in fridge, un-baked. This is a great idea when you plan to serve it to guests, because you can prep it ahead of time and then heat it before serving.
You can remove from fridge and set on counter for about 20 minutes before baking. Then bake as normal.
Can You Freeze Lasagna?
Yes, prep the lasagna in an aluminum pan, but don’t bake it. Make sure to let it cool completely, cover the pan with foil and if your aluminum pan has a lid then place it over the foil.
You can store in a freezer for several months. I suggest you store for 2-3 months, but many sites say you can keep it for up to one year. Keep in mind, the longer you leave it in the freezer the more risk you run for freezer burn.
You can also freeze it in a tempered baking dish. Once the prepped lasagna is cooled cover the lasagna with plastic wrap, wapping tightly. Then, cover the dish in foil. Label the top so you will remember to remove the plastic wrap before baking.
The Spruce Eats has an excellent How to Freeze Lasagna guide that is very helpful.
When you’re ready to cook your lasagna, remove from freezer and set in the refridgerator the night before. Then, pre-heat your oven to 375 on the day you plan to cook it and bake as directed on the instructions.
Can You Cook a Frozen Lasagna?
Yes, it’s not ideal because it will take longer to cook. But, in a pinch pre-heat your oven, remove the foil and plastic covering, place the lasagna in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and let it continue cooking for 45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
This method does require about 15 minutes of extra baking time.
Is Lasagna Healthy?
That’s a good question and the answer really depends on the ingredients you choose.
You can add extra vegetables to the meat sauce if you choose. From time to time, I’ll shred zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, or mushrooms in a food processor and add to the meat while it’s cooking. This adds some extra nutrional value to the dish.
For the cheese, you could opt for low-fat cheeses to reduce the amount of fat in the dish.
Given that their is meat, tomatoes, and cheese in the meal plus, using whole-wheat, the dish has good nutritional value. Of course, everyone’s nutrional needs are different and I always suggest using all-natural ingredients that fit your own family’s needs.
You can use this Italian Meat Sauce with this Recipe.
- 4 c. meat sauce
- 12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions and dried thoroughly
- 1 24-oz. container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 T. dried basil, divided
- salt and black pepper, to taste (I use pink Himalayan salt)
- 16-oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- ¾ c. Parmigianino Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, divided
- Place top oven rack in the center position and pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, 1 tablespoons of basil. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Spray a 13 x 9” glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add enough meat sauce to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer and then cover with 3 lasagna noodles.
- Top with an even layer of the ricotta cheese mixture, then another layer of meat sauce followed by a layer of shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese, using equal amounts of each. Finish with a thin layer of grated Parmesan and Asiago cheese, also in equal amounts.
- Repeat this process two more times: noodles, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, shredded and grated cheeses.
- Sprinkle the remaining dried basil across the final layer.
- Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, then tent a layer of foil over the top. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Note the prep time listed here doesn't include the cooking time for the sauce as found in the Italian meat sauce recipe. Adjust your cooking time accordingly.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 820Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 1727mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 7gSugar: 15gProtein: 51g
Nutritional values are estimates only intended for informational purposes actual results may vary.
What Can Lasagna Be Served With?
Lasagna is good on it’s own, but if you’re looking for a fuller meal you can serve it with a salad, fresh homemade bread, garlic bread from the grocery, and even a steamed green veggie on the side.
I like to serve steamed broccoli, or green beans if I’m cooking a vegetable, otherwise I do a simple salad with either fresh bread or garlic bread.
What is your favorite side dish to eat alongside a lasagna?