1/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon more later)
12 ounces lasagna noodles
3 garlic cloves
1 white onion
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (2 tablespoons more later)
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup red wine
1 26 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon basil
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Meat MagicTM spice
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon more earlier)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup more earlier)
9-inch x 13-inch baking dish
cooking scissors (If your baking dish is 8-inches x 8-inches, for example)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil water in large pot. Add salt and lasagna noodles. Cook noodles according to directions on package or for about 9 minutes on high heat. Remove noodles and set aside. Make sure the lasagna noodles are all separate after you do this. (If not, you’ll need to add another chunk of time separating the noodles that cling to each other with a tenacity rivaling a salesman pitching to a hot prospect.)
Peel and mince onion and garlic cloves. Grate, chop, fold, mutilate, and spindle mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Mix these cheeses together along with the ricotta cheese. Use spice grinder to well, grind peppercorns. (If you don’t have a spice grinder you can gnash your teeth in rage, use 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or shrug your shoulders in the belief that no one will notice.)
Add ground beef, onion, and garlic to frying pan. Cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Add red wine, spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, bay leaf, meat spice, oregano, salt, thyme, and peppercorns. Cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Use no-stick spray on baking dish. Put a layer of lasagna, most likely 3 side-by-side noodles on the dish. If the noodles are longer than your baking dish, snip off the excess length with your scissors.
In this recipe, 9 noodles will make one lasagna dish with 2 layers of meat sauce. Reserve about 1/2 cup meat sauce. Divide remaining meat sauce and cheese equally between layers.
Cover this first layer of noodles with a layer of meat sauce and a layer of cheese. Add a second layer of noodles, meat sauce, and cheese. Add a third layer of noodles. Spoon just a little meat sauce atop the top layer along with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Put glass lid or aluminum foil on top of baking dish.
Cook lasagna in covered baking dish in oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes more.
Serve to adoring guests. Become lifelong friends with any who offer to clean up.
1) Lasagna was first developed in England in the 14th century.
2) The English version had cinnamon and saffron instead of tomatoes.
3) Saffron is incredibly expensive. It runs about $170 an ounce today. Tomatoes cost $2 to $3 a pound.
4) This price differential put an incredible pressure on English cooks to substitute tomatoes for saffron.
5) Many more tomatoes are widely grown in France and Italy. English cooks turned there eyes to these regions.
6) Most historians believe England under Edward III invaded France in 1347 for various dynastic reasons.
7) But there was pressure on King Edward by his kingdom’s cooks to secure a source of lasagna ingredients far cheaper than saffron.
8) The Hundred Years War lasted until 1453, which shows just how fiercely people will fight for their tomatoes.
9) I fear a war over saffron.
– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.