This recipe for lasagna is true staple in my home. I had avoided making lasagna for so many years because I feared it would be too time consuming, but this recipe is quite easy. I often serve it to my family for weeknight meals, and they all love it (even my 1-year old daughter). It's also a great meal for a casual dinner party because it's good for serving a crowd. I have never served this lasagna to someone who did not rave about how delicious it is. My brother-in-law did not believe it was homemade.
It is a really comforting meal and yet it is also quite nutritious! I always serve a salad along with this but with all the spinach in the filling, it's almost not even necessary.
Please note that I normally use ground turkey thigh as my choice for the bolognese, but it also tastes great with ground beef. In addition, I am going to be honest and say that when I do not have time to make fresh ricotta I just use the Mozzarella Fresca brand that you can find at many grocery stores. When I cannot get to the store that sells fresh lasagna sheets, I use Barilla No-Boil sheets (the only brand that I trust). Finally, I often use grated mozzarella for ordinary weekdays but when it's a special occasion I use the fresh mozzarella to make it more fancy.
Large Bunch Fresh Basil (De-Stemmed and Chopped)
1 1/2 cups
Fresh Ricotta (See Below)
Freshly Grated Parmesan
Spinach (Cooked, Drained, Chopped)
Fresh Lasagna Sheets
Fresh Mozzarella (Large Balls)
Fresh Lemon Juice
In This Recipe
To make the fresh ricotta, line colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth; set in sink. Bring milk and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in lemon juice and let simmer until curds form about 1-2 minutes.
Using finely slotted spoon or skimmer, scoop curds from pan and transfer to cheesecloth-lined colander. Let drain about 1 minute. Transfer curds to medium covered bowl. Chill for about 3 hours. Can be made 2 days ahead.
Once you are done making ricotta (if you're making it yourself), you can begin on the bolognese. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and bring to medium-high heat. Then add diced carrot, diced onion, and minced garlic. Add 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes, until soft.
Add the diced and puréed tomatoes to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a vigorous simmer and then add cayenne followed by the ground turkey (or beef). Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add chopped basil and red wine. Cover the saucepan and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
Before getting started on the ricotta filling, turn the oven on to preheat at 375 degrees.
Blend the ricotta with one egg. Then add parmesan, remaining salt and pepper, and then nutmeg. Finally add the well-drained spinach to the mixture and blend well.
To assemble the lasagna, start by adding a little bit of sauce to the bottom of your casserole dish (roughly 14 x 11 inches). This will prevent the pasta from burning and keep the bottom layer moist.
Then add a layer of fresh or no-boil lasagna sheets to the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon half the ricotta mixture over the pasta with a silicone spatula and smooth into an even layer. Top with one-third of the bolognese sauce. Add about one-third of mozzarella on top. Then repeat.
After assembling your two layers of lasagna, top it off with the remaining third of sauce and remaining third of mozzarella. Cover with foil and cook in the oven 45-60 minutes or until the sauce begins to bubble. During the last ten minutes, take the foil off to let the cheese brown a little bit.