Fun fact, most people who try to guess my nationality when they meet me (eye roll so hard), end up guessing Italian. I can see why they would assume that, I’m fair skinned with dark features and I look like I’ve been bred on a diet of pasta and cannolis. BUT I’m not, sadly. I used to wish I was Italian – I was heavily influenced by the TV show “Sopranos” as a young one. I even visited Italy and hatched many a plan to run away into the Tuscan mountains and hide from border security/immigration for the rest of my life. Then I remembered my family and friends (and most importantly my cat, Percy) and I reluctantly returned to Canada.
Since this time, I’ve been brainstorming how to get back to Italy and stay for good. Short of becoming a millionaire or taking out a crippling student loan to weasel my way back in, I couldn’t think of a feasible way to live La Dolce Vita forever. Then it struck me, “do what you can, where you are”! I realized, while stuck in Canada, I can perfect my Italian cooking and use it as a weapon to secure my unsuspecting future husband/immigration sponsor. Fool proof plan – amiright?!
If we can just neglect the fact that I used oven ready (aka no-boil) lasagna noodles from a box – not made fresh, and pre-made, jarred Tomato & Basil sauce, and focus on the taste – that would be great. First step, perfect the assembly, second step, work on all the other bits – like making my own sauce. If anyone has an Italian grandmother they would be willing to loan out to me on the weekends, I would greatly appreciate it.
What you need:
For the red sauce –
1/2 large red onion chopped
4 x-large cloves garlic, minced
6 medium white mushrooms, diced
1lb ground sirloin
1 jar + 1 cup (for the final layer) of Newman’s Own Tomato & Basil pasta sauce
1/2 tbsp italian seasoning
For the ricotta mix –
1kg ricotta (not necessary to use this much – this size happened to be on sale/best price – you could easily use anywhere from 2 or 3 cups, just make the layers a bit thinner!)
1 tbsp parmesan & herb seasoning
1 cup parmesan shreds
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (firmly packed) basil, chiffonade
For assembling rest of lasagna –
Italiano cheese shreds
oven ready lasagna sheets
1/2 cup parmesan shreds
1/2 cup Newman’s own Sweet Basil & Tomato sauce
What to do:
Sautee chopped onions in a large saucepan w/ 1tbsp of olive oil, over medium heat.
Once translucent, almost golden brown – add 1/2 of the minced garlic, sautée for 1 minute.
Add ground sirloin & diced mushrooms – cook until done about 7-10 mins (starting to turn golden brown). At this point, I put salt & pepper in – to taste.
Add 1 jar tomato sauce (save extra 1/2 cup for final layer/topping of lasagna), herbs & remaining 1/2 minced garlic to pan, cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes, turn to low and simmer while getting the other ingredients ready.
Add ricotta, parmesan cheese, parmesan & herb seasoning, 2 eggs and basil chiffonade into a large mixing bowl. Add salt & pepper and mix thoroughly, refrigerate until ready to use.
When I am ready to assemble the lasagna, then I turn the oven on (to 375F).
Layers of lasagna are as follows:
- red sauce
3. ricotta mixture
4. Italiano cheese shreds (thin layer)
5. red sauce
7. repeat until final layer which will be noodles covered in remaining 1/2 cup red sauce & sprinkled with both Italiano cheese shreds & 1/2 cup parmesan
Once all assembled, cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. I like to place the lasagna dish on a baking tray just in case any sauce/cheese boils over. Remove from oven, take off tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered (so cheese gets nice and brown and gooey).
Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. Buon Appetito!