The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. My mother and I can’t stick to any one recipe, so this is just one variation of lasagna that we collaborated on and it’s worth writing about, reading about, cooking and eating. It’s just that good. Not too cheesy, but cheesy enough.
I make lasagna in many variations, but, this has to be my favorite. It starts with a version of Retro Rose (my mom) thick tomato sauce, and her amazing meatballs. I took it from there using four cheeses and no boil pasta, but it’s the meatballs that made this absolutely the most delicious lasagna I ever had.
This is not an exact exact recipe, as Italian food is just not prepared with that precision, but more of a feel of what seems right. However, there is good southern Italian food and some very very bad. Ingredients matter. As does texture and assembly. Notice that the lasagna is not running all over the plate. It has been put together in such a way that once cut, it stays together.
This is worth a few extra power workouts, or perhaps just go out and shovel the snow or do some yard work (depending on where you live) and work up a good appetite. This is the perfect one dish meal and I decided to not serve bread, but only a salad and some nice red wine.
This recipe may seem a bit disorganized, and perhaps, scattered in many directions. Think of it as an orchestra in which each instrument must be finely tuned and separately mastered. Lasagna ends up in one beautiful piece, but it is not, I repeat, NOT a casserole, where everything is thrown in raw and melded into one texture. Each part must be very good or it is not good at all.
Make your best sauce, use the best cheese, and do not scrimp on time or care. Some families only know lasagna through the freezer of the grocery store, but in our home, it’s made for special occasions because it takes time and it is just that good.
Meatball Lasagna, A Retro Rose Collaboration
Rich Tomato Sauce Ingredients
- olive oil
- onion quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 green pepper diced
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 cans Italian tomatoes
- A few basil leaves
- 1 carrot or 2 T sugar
- big dash cinnamon
- salt pepper
- The Meatballs made here
- Package “no boil” lasagna noodles
The Cheese Filling
- 1 pound ricotta fat cheese do not use non-fat
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 1/4 parmigiana reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup asiago cheese coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup Italian flat leafed parsley finely chopped
- pinch nutmeg grated
- salt and pepper
- Tomato Sauce Meatballs, Cheese Filling
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese or as needed to top lasagna
- grated Parmigiano reggiano
- You will use three layers of pasta two layers of filling.
Rich Tomato Sauce Instructions
- In a large pot, add olive oil, garlic and onion. Once garlic and olive oil is cooked, remove, discard.
- Add in green pepper and when soft, add in tomato paste. Once heated through and mixed well with olive oil, start to add puree from tomatoes. To make puree, squeeze within colander over a bowl. You should be able to get about 5/6 of the puree back from good tomatoes. Add 2 cans of water.
- Add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours until thickened.
- In the meantime, bake meatballs and add to sauce.
- Mix everything except the egg and taste. Once satisfied with the seasoning, add the egg and mix.
- Day One: Make Tomato Sauce and 12 large meatballs the day before and allow flavors to meld overnight in fridge.
- Day Two: Mix ricotta cheese filling.
- Heat sauce, slice cold meatballs
Meatball Lasagna Assembly
- tomato sauce
- packages lasagna noodles (you won’t use them all)
- Meatballs (recipe here)
- Put meatballs on both inside layers, randomly, then spread cheese randomly. Some bites have more meat, some have more cheese. Do this with both layers. Add mozzarella cheese. This made enough lasagna for an average sized lasagna pan and enough for a small bread pan.
- Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until cheese is very melted, but not browned.
- Allow to rest 20-30 minutes before cutting. You can use a warm tomato sauce to top when serving.
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