The Best Three-Cheese Lasagna Recipe

Can you believe that we are only 19 days away from Christmas?  Since we are all busy preparing for the holidays, I will be writing shorter posts for the next two weeks and sharing some recipes that are great for entertaining during this busy time of year.

Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes to prepare during the holidays.  A beautiful pan of piping hot and cheesy lasagna is perfect when entertaining a large group of people. Make it ahead, bake it and add a salad, a loaf of Italian bread and dessert and you have an incredibly satisfying meal.  Don’t forget to add a nice bottle of red wine! ;)

This recipe is my favorite after trying countless recipes over the years.  You will need an extra deep dish lasagna pan for this version (9 X 13 x 3). I use this one by Mario Batali.  It is made of porcelain enamel over cast iron, so it is a heavy little buggar (especially when loaded up with the lasagna!).  However, it cooks very evenly, which is important with a deep dish lasagna.

Lots of cheesy goodness!

There are many flavors layered in this lasagna and that is what I like so much about it.  Be sure to use crushed tomatoes in puree that are more like a thick tomato sauce and not the ones that are just finely chopped.  Progresso is one brand that I suggest.  You want a rich and thick tomato sauce that adds a wonderful flavor to the dish.

There is very little meat in this recipe, so it is easily adaptable to be a vegetarian lasagna, if that is what you prefer.

Buon Appetito!

The lasagna cooks up beautifully in this cast iron coated pan

Three-Cheese Lasagna

Yield: Serves 8 - 12

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

I prefer to cook this lasagna on convection bake since it is prepared in a very tall pan. It cooks more evenly.

Ingredients:

For Sauce:
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled carrots
4 tablespoons minced garlic
8 ounces lean ground beef (I use local, grass fed beef)
8 ounces mild/sweet Italian sausages, casings removed ( I use local pork sausage)
2 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree (Progresso is one brand I use)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (or more to taste)

For lasagna:

15 lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces)

2 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese (I use Calabro)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
2 large eggs

4 3/4 cups grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/4 pounds)

Directions:

For Sauce:
1. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic; sauté until softened, about 12 minutes. Add beef and sausages to pan; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce measures about 10 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool.

For lasagna:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 for convection bake (I prefer convection bake for this lasagna). Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; cover with cold water.

2. Combine ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

3. Drain pasta and pat dry. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Place 5 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 3 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover (sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 2 cups mozzarella and 3 cups sauce. Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.) Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 40 minutes (or 36 minutes for convection bake); uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes (or about 36 minutes for convection bake). Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit

 

19 Responses to “The Best Three-Cheese Lasagna Recipe”

  1. 1

    sippitysup — December 6, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

    Curl up and dig in! GREG

  2. 2

    The Mom Chef — December 6, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    Wow, that looks good. I even forgive you for reminding me how close Christmas is! :)

  3. 3

    Rachel @ Bakerita — December 6, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Looks so good! I love a good lasagna, but I’ve never done it myself! Can’t wait to try this recipe, just need to get myself a deeper pan!

    • Gwen replied: — December 6th, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

      Hi Rachel,

      Be sure to use this size pan (deep dish). It will definitely not fit in a regular pan. Enjoy!

      Gwen

  4. 4

    Priscilla - She's Cookin' — December 6, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    Looks so inviting – there’s nothing more satisfying than a huge pan of cheesy lasagna. I’ve got lasagna on the brain after last night’s Lasagna Throwdown with a group of fellow foodies – still stuffed :) Happy Holidays, Gwen!

  5. 5

    Lynn Lekander — December 6, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    The weather is cold and this sounds like a must make!

  6. 6

    Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! — December 6, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    When it comes to lasagne, I also prefer drinking straight from the bottle ;-)
    Kidding. Incredible photo – I’m totally drooling and it’s only 11:00 a.m. here. Hope the pup is feeling better.

  7. 7

    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — December 6, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    I love lasagna but I make it sauceless for me and totally saucy for hubs. My favorite part is all of the leftovers! Your post reminded me that I need a more traditional lasagna dish – I only have oval ones!

  8. 8

    raquel — December 6, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    Lasagne I am looking for a different variation of lasagne and would definitely try this. Yes holiday is in the air.

  9. 9

    Jamie — December 7, 2011 @ 2:38 am

    Mmmm I want to come for a lasagna holiday meal at your house! Delicious and boy it looks rich and decadent but somehow not too over the top! Perfect! A lasagna meal as you describe it really is the perfect meal – for company, for winter, for really anytime!

  10. 10

    Judy@Savoring Today — December 7, 2011 @ 8:08 am

    Lasagne is a great crowd pleaser and easy to plan ahead. This looks fabulous, bring on the cheese!

  11. 11

    vianney — December 7, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    19 days, oh my I am so behind, lol. This is a great idea for a party. We are having a ton of small parties this year and this would be a wonderful recipes to serve. thanks!!

  12. 12

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — December 7, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    I so rarely make lasagna… not because I don’t love it (I do), but because the portions seem so big for two people. I have to change that asap! This looks great

  13. 13

    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — December 7, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    We really enjoy a great lasagna. As you say, it only requires a salad, bread and wine to make a memorable meal. Delicious1

  14. 14

    Kim — December 9, 2011 @ 12:25 am

    Well… now I want a deep dish 9×19 enamel pan for Christmas!!! If for nothing else so I can make this dish. :)

    Looks wonderful, Gwen!

    [K]

  15. 15

    Curt — December 10, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    Great looking lasagna. There are some awesome flavors in that sauce.

  16. 16

    Monica Swift — December 11, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    Very close to the lasagna I have made for the last 25 years, although you don’t need the carrots, that will just make the sauce too sweet, and then you add brown sugar, sorry too sweet for my taste. I inherited my recipe from my Italian grandmother, and I have served it to friends and family over the years. The sauce should be cooked at least 3 hours, longer is better, and if you purchase sweet Italian sausage, thats all you need as far as sweetness. One more thing…you don’t need a heavy expensive specialty pan to make this in, you can get away with one of those foil deep dish lasagna pans that they sell in any grocery store. Just make sure you use a cookie sheet under it to support the weight!

    • Gwen replied: — December 17th, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

      Hi Monica,

      Yes, this sauce has just a bit of sweetness, but it is not noticeable in the lasagna since there is so much cheese. You can certainly cook the sauce longer and I would if I were using it for something other than lasagna. It does “cook” again in the baking process, so it has a very nice flavor in the finished dish.

      You can certainly use an aluminum pan, however, I make this often and like having the enamel coasted cast iron pan to serve to guests. I also think that is does make a difference in how the lasagna cooks through so evenly.

      Gwen

  17. 17

    Monet — December 12, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

    We always eat lasagna at my in-laws. Such a great Christmas tradition for us. I can see why this is a favorite. You can’t go wrong with all that cheese, can you? I hope you are doing well and enjoying the bustle. I am!

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