Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hearty Three-Cheese Lasagna

First off, this recipe isn't "exact". The amount of sauce you'll use depends on how big your pan is or whether you divide it into two pans. Remember to keep an eye on the amount of sauce you have while you're layering.  The first time I made this, I made it with 1/2 the sauce and ran out on the last layer. With this recipe, I sometimes will have a little left over. Put it in a freezer box and you'll have a nice spaghetti sauce for later!

Secondly, this is a time-consuming recipe. This lasagna is really a labor of love. You can make the sauce the day before ( I always do), then layer the ingredients the next morning, and bake that night. 

There's carrots and spinach in it, but don't let it throw you off. 
The carrots are in the sauce and practically unnoticeable.
Shhhhh. I'm always looking for ways to sneak in some veggies.

Hearty Three-Cheese Lasagna



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 16 ounces lean ground beef
  • 12 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed (i.e. squeeze the meat out of the tube. hehe)
  • (2) 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 bay leaves


  • Lasagna noodles (depending on pan size and if you are dividing into 2 containers-about 9-15 noodles)

(2) 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, thoroughly squeezed dry with paper towels
  • 2 large eggs

5 cups grated mozzarella cheese


In a heavy large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrots and garlic; sauté until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Add beef and sausages to pan. Saute until thoroughly cooked, breaking up meat with back of spoon (approximately 7-10 minutes).

Add remaining sauce ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Cool.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • Cook noodles according to package directions in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender. Drain and cover with cold water.
  • Combine ricotta and 1cup Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.
  • Drain pasta and pat dry. Spread about 1 cup sauce over bottom of glass baking dish (13x9-inch or larger). 

  • Place 3-4 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit.

  • Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles. 

  • Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. 

  • Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover. 

  • Repeat layering with noodles, ricotta-spinach mixture (reserve some if you want to dollop it on top), mozzarella and sauce. 
  • Arrange remaining noodles over sauce.
  • Spread remaining sauce over noodles. 
  • Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. Lightly pat down with your hand to even the mixture.
  • If desired, put a few dollops of the ricotta-spinach mixture on the top.

  • (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.) 
  • Cover baking dish with aluminum foil, being careful to slightly "tent" foil so that melted cheese won't stick to it.
  • Bake lasagna 40 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 -50 minutes. 
  • Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.
**You really could divide this recipe into two pans. I usually do this because by night 2, we're sick of lasagna. This is A LOT of lasagna, especially for a small family. Just set out two pans and divide it as you go. Measurements do not have to be exact!

You can see here that I divided it up between 2 pans.
One for dinner and one to share or freeze.
Throw on more mozzarella if you like. Nobody's looking;-)

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