Lasagna tends to land in one of two categories: the cheap, flavorless potluck dinner kind in which the corners of the pasta are dry, the meat bland, the sauce straight from a jar, and hurriedly assembled. The other is the Italian grandmother kind. This lasagna takes time, but the effort pays off and it can be made 24 hours in advance up to the point it is ready to go in the oven. This is the spoil-your-taste buds-silly lasagna with rich, complex flavor that comes straight from mamma's kitchen. Use high-quality mozzarella, ricotta, and grate the Parmesan Reggiano yourself. Add more or fewer herbs to suit your taste and crushed chili flakes to suit your heat preferences. Double the recipe and freeze one whole, or bake the second one and cut into huge square individual servings and wrap and freeze in quart-size freezer bags. At the end of the day, this lasagna is best when you own it. Make when you are willing to leisurely assemble the ingredients with love—it will disappear in minutes at the supper table.

cuisine Italian
difficulty Moderate
season Year Round
serves 8 to 10

Ingredients

3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage 1/2 pound ground sirloin 1/2 pound ground veal 1/2 cup onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes 12 ounces tomato paste 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce 1 cup water 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped 1 1/2 teaspoons Greek oregano 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 6 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped plus 2 tablespoons for garnish 12 no boil lasagna noodles 16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese 1 large egg 1 pound large fresh mozzarella balls, drained and sliced 1/4 inch thick 3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano, freshly grated 20 basil leaves, julienned

Directions

  1. Put the three meats, onion and garlic in a DUTCH OVEN over medium heat until nicely browned.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce.
  3. Add 1 cup water and stir.
  4. Add sugar, fennel seeds, rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  5. Turn down the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Combine the ricotta, egg, parsley, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan in a bowl.
  8. In an oven proof 9 x 13 OVEN SAFE DISH, spread 1/3 of the meat sauce over the bottom.
  9. Put 6 of the no boil noodles lengthwise over meat sauce (2 rows of 3 noodles).
  10. Spread one half of the ricotta mixture over the first layer of noodles.
  11. Top with mozzarella slices and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  12. Ladle 1/3 of meat sauce over the cheese.
  13. Add 6 more noodles, top with other half of ricotta mixture, sliced mozzarella, sprinkle with Parmesan and last of the meat sauce.
  14. Finish with a layer of mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
  15. Cover with aluminum foil and put in oven for 20 minutes.
  16. Remove foil and cook for another 20 minutes until cheese is hot and bubbling.
  17. Cool for 15 minutes and sprinkle the top with fresh chopped parsley before serving.