Classic Italian Lasagna

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Classic Italian Lasagna- I am still trying to figure out how in the world this recipe made it into a cookbook that is called EVERYDAY Italian.  The only way that this dish could be made "everyday" is if you purchased store bought marinara and béchamel instead of using the two homemade sauce recipes that I recently shared.  Using store bought might be the option for you, but I cannot speak for the end result.  Even then, there is still the par cooking of the noodles, grating of the cheese, thawing out the spinach (don't forget to use my easy method HERE), the cooking of the meats and then mixing a few things together before layering it all together. Are you still with me?? I hope so because this is one superior lasagna recipe!!

What really sets this recipe apart from other lasagna recipes is a mixture of the marinara and béchamel sauce.  It is rich, creamy and full of flavor.  The other stand out component is the meat layer.  I don't use ground beef.  Instead, I use a mixture of Italian sausage and pancetta.  After all, this is an Italian dish. As far as the cheeses, use whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella and not part-skim.  This is not something you will eat everyday, so splurge and get the good stuff.  

Classic Italian Lasagna
makes one 9 x 13-inch baking dish

15 lasagna noodles (about 12-ounces) cooked using the hot water method
3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (hot or mild), removed from casing
4-ounces pancettta, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups Marinara Sauce, plus more for serving
1 1/2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried using THIS method
3 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh-flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (about 4 cups) grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage and pancetta and sauté until the sausage and pancetta are browned, breaking up any large clumps of sausage, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat mixture to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; set aside.

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375° F. Spread the butter over a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the béchamel and marinara sauces. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper, set aside.

Spoon one-third of the béchamel-marinara mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange 5 lasagna noodles top of the sauce, overlapping slightly and covering the bottom of the dish completely.  Spread the ricotta mixture over the noodles.  Arrange five more noodles over the ricotta mixture.  Top the second noodle layer with the sausage mixture.  Spoon one-third of the sauce mixture over the sausage mixture, then sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. To p with remaining 5 lasagna noodles and spoon the remaining sauce mixture over the noodles.  Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese.  (The lasagna can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one day in advance; uncover before baking.)

Line a large, heavy baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the prepared lasagna on to. the baking sheet and bake until the lasagna is heated through and the top is browned and bubbling, about 45 minutes.  (Meanwhile, warm the extra marinara sauce for serving.) Allow the lasagna to cool for 20 minutes.  Slice, serve with extra marinara sauce on the side and garnish with parsley.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Everyday Italian, by Giada de Laurentis


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