Mom's Lasagna

Order lasagna in Italy and you'll probably be served something that doesn't look like Mom's lasagna at all (it will still taste good, though!) While our Americanized recipes may diverge from the authentic dish, they are still delicious.

No two lasagna recipes taste alike and we all have our personal favorites. The following recipe has delighted its tasters, from all around the U.S., for years. The addition of chopped carrots and celery are its flavor secret. Cooking the sauce down keeps the layers from sliding apart when served. It can be made a day ahead (this actually gives the flavors more time to perfectly blend) and frozen for a future wonderful dinner. While lasagna does have several steps for preparation, it can be the main element of a satisfying meal.

Mom's Lasagna Recipe

10 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked (about 12)
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1lb. cans diced tomatoes, with juice
2 4oz. cans tomato paste
2 carrots, finely chopped or grated
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons dried basil OR 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley OR 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons salt

Ricotta Filling
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (substitute low-fat cottage cheese, if desired)
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon dried parsley OR 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Oil a 9 by 13 baking pan and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, about 30 minutes. (Beware - it tends to splatter a bit.)

Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Assemble the layers in the 9 by 13 pan in the following order:
1. noodles, (about) 1/3 of sauce, 1/2 of ricotta filling, 1/3 of mozzarella
2. Repeat #1.
3. noodles, (about) 1/3 of sauce, remaining mozzarella, remaining sauce (a little bit of sauce on top keeps the cheese from browning)

Refrigerate overnight, freeze, or bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes (10 more if refrigerated), until edges are bubbly.

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