With Easter right around the corner, I can’t help but daydream about what it was like for me as a child. The best part of the day was getting together with family for dinner. One of the first things I’d do when I walked in would be to check the oven for artichokes. Then my cousins and I would entertain ourselves while waiting for two things – dinner and more importantly, the Easter egg hunt.
A typical dinner menu would consist of a ham, some sort of baked pasta – lasagna, manicotti, or a baked ziti, salad, bread, rolls, and artichokes. We would also always have Jello eggs because Nana knew that my cousins and I loved them, and some kind of dessert. Even though we’re a couple weeks away, I’ve started planning my menu. This year, I think we’re going to have lasagna on the menu.
Lasagna is great because you can put it together ahead of time and either keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. I’ve done both, and it comes out great either way. One tip though, be sure to thaw if frozen, otherwise cooking will take significantly longer. If your lasagna has been in the fridge prior to cooking, you’ll want to plan to add 15 minutes on to your cooking time.
There are many ways to make lasagna. Nana would always mix up the cheese mixture and use the meat and sauce previously mentioned. I like to add some spicy Italian sausage to mine to give it a little kick. You can use a combination of the two or create your own twist. One thing that I’ve learned when making lasagna over the years – don’t skimp on the sauce! You definitely do not want dry lasagna! What do you add to lasagna to make it unique and delicious? Please comment below!
1 package lasagna noodles – cooked al dente
1 egg, beaten
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Sauce, at least 5 cups
1 lb bulk spicy Italian sausage, cooked
Mix together in a mixing bowl the egg, ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup of Parmesan cheeses. Add salt to taste, and I usually use about 1-2 tablespoons of parsley. Once combined, set aside. In a separate bowl or pot, mix the cooked sausage and sauce. Set aside. To begin, spray a 9×13 glass-baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Coat the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of sauce. Then begin layering the noodles, the cheese mixture, and sauce. Repeat until the ingredients are gone. Be sure to have enough sauce to cover the top layer, and then add the remaining shredded mozzarella on top of that. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minute (as noted above, you’ll need to adjust this time if cold or frozen prior to popping in the oven). Remove the foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes so the cheese can crisp up. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Jello eggs: photo credit
Lasagna noodles: photo credit