To kick off my “recipes with wine” week I am starting out with my best – the mother of all italian dishes, in my opinion. Some people (like my hubby) like their Chicken Parmesean, or traditional spaghetti….but for my money this is the best of the traditional italian dishes. I know there are as many lasagna recipes as there cooks in Rome…maybe more. This is made with beef (not sausage or ground pork) red wine and fresh herbs. The great thing about using fresh herbs in the winter when it is cold and miserable out is that you get a wonderful reminder of your summer garden while infusing this dish with really amazing flavor. Since fresh herbs are so easy to find year round ( I keep pots of italian parsley and basil on my covered porch or in my kitchen if it really gets cold here) and I use them all winter.
This does take some time to prepare and assemble but its not difficult – just a bit time consuming. After you taste it you will know it is definitely worth it! Bonus – it tastes even better the next day!
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (I use the fresh chopped garlic in jars in the produce section)
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 2 pound 3 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil, divided
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 pound mozarella cheese
20 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
12 ounces lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil and sautee chopped onion until lightly browned. Add the ground beef and brown. Stir in tomatoes and garlic, and simmer covered 30 minutes. Add salt, peppers, sugar, 1 teaspoon basil, oregano and red wine. Simmer 20 more minutes. This sauce will be so good looking and smell so good – actually your whole kitchen will be smelling pretty amazing right about now….
In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, eggs and 2 tablespoons of the fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the lasagna in a large pot according to package directions, adding salt and some olive oil to the water. Stir often and do not overcook or noodles will be too fragile. Drain and seperate noodles, and lay out flat on a foil lined baking sheet drizzled with olive oil.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 13 baking pan and start to build lasagna. Arrange 4 noodles side by side at the bottom of the baking dish, then add a layer of sauce. Drop ricotta mixture by heaping tablespoons over sauce, then sprinkle with mozarella. Repeat for all three layers.
Sprinkle parmesan and remaining mozarella over top of dish. Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes until bubbling hot and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley and basil and serve hot.
I serve this with my crusty artisan bread and a green salad. I know it is a lot of work – but there is so much food here that you will be able to eat for days…maybe all week!