Sometimes, even often times, simpler is better.
I love lasagna and have tried many many variations. My best lasagna though came about when my youngest daughter was still under a year but venturing into more diverse solids. So, I ended up omitting several ingredients when making this lasagna for the whole family to enjoy (for instance, eggs because of the egg whites for the baby). Turns out, the very basic ingredients and not much else makes a fantastic lasagna!
And, simple also means easy… we can never have too many easy meals to turn to as busy parents!
No Cook Lasagna Noodles
1/2 to 3/4 lb Ground Beef
1/2 Onion (chopped)
2 (14.5 oz) Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
8-12 oz Mozzarella Cheese
4 oz Parmesan Cheese (I prefer shredded)
About 1/2 of a 15 oz Container of Ricotta Cheese
I use an 8×8 pan for this and it makes plenty with leftovers for my hubby, myself, and the two kiddos (2yo and 10mo). If your doing a big meal for a family gathering or want lots more leftovers, you can adjust the ingredients for a 9×13 pan. I’ll give some guidelines at the end of this post. My description below though goes for the smaller 8×8 pan.
Set the oven to 375 degrees (F). First, brown the beef and saute the onions together. Add garlic if you like for more flavor, for me it just depends if I remember or have time to pull a couple cloves out and mince them up. Drain the meat if needed.
Then take about 1/3 of crushed tomatoes from the can and spread it thinly on the bottom of your pan. BTW, I use Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes. I love this brand because they are organic with BPA free cans and they are delish!
Next create a layer of three noodles (they will overlap). Spoon several dollops of the ricotta cheese next. No need to be perfect, I often do this with a toddler in my arms and the ricotta sticks to the noodles, so I never get to really spread it out nicely. Sprinkle about half the parmesan cheese over it.
Then dump half the beef/onion mixture over this and spread it out. Add the rest of the 1st can of tomatoes to the layer. Then top with a big handful of mozzarella cheese (about a cup).
Lay out 2 noodles, and then repeat with the ricotta, parmesan, meat/onion, tomatoes (1/2 can) and mozzarella. Add 3 noodles overlapping on the top. Spread the last half of can of tomatoes over the noodles and top with another big handful of mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil (try to tent the foil over your pan if you can, if its touching the cheese you’ll have a sticky mess to deal with). Stick in the oven for about 50 min. Take the foil off and put it back in the oven for 10 min or so to brown the top. I’ll often switch to broil mode to speed up this last step but keep an eye on it if you do.
For a larger pan, I’d probably up the ingredients to this… and layer with 4 noodles each time.
Full 1 lb Ground Beef
3 (14 oz) Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
16 oz Mozzarella Cheese
6 oz Parmesan Cheese (I prefer shredded)
Full 15 oz Container of Ricotta Cheese
You can definitely dress this up with veggies like spinach and mushrooms, or add some fresh herbs like basil. Tweak it to your own likings. But, as I mentioned, this simple recipe turns out amazingly well with little hoopla.
And simple is good. 😉