The Best Make-Ahead Lasagna
This recipe comes from an America's Test Kitchen cookbook entitled The Best Make-Ahead Recipe. Everything I've made from this cookbook has been superb and this is my new favorite! The best part about this recipe is that it uses Barilla's No Boil Lasagna Noodles. After making this lasagna I will never use another kind of noodle! The noodles mimic fresh pasta because they turn out delicate, not chewy like other no-boil noodles I've tried. Make sure to use good quality canned tomatoes and don't be alarmed about the sauce tasting too tomato-y and sharp because the taste mellows dramatically in the final dish. The recipe calls for meatloaf mix but if you can't find it (or in my experience, aren't willing to pay the high price) you can substitute lean ground beef, pork, italian sausage, or any combination thereof. Whole milk ricotta cheese and mozzarella give the best results if you are freezing this dish to serve later but if you are baking this immediately then skim or part-skim ingredients can be substituted without any loss in flavor.
- Ready In:
- 1hr 40mins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tbsps)
- 1 lb meatloaf mix
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree (or tomato sauce)
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 24 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese (about 3 cups)
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
- 1⁄2 cup fresh basil leaf, chopped
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
NOODLES AND CHEESE
- 12 no-boil flat lasagna noodles, preferably Barilla (there are 16 noodles per box)
- 1 lb whole milk mozzarella, shredded (about 4 cups)
- 1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
- FOR THE SAUCE: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add the onions and cook until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the meat, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces until the meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the liquid evaporates and only the fat remains, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato puree and drained diced tomatoes (and a splash of your favorite red wine if you feel so inclined).
- Bring to a simmer and cook until the flavors are blended, about 3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
- FOR THE RICOTTA FILLING: Stir all the ingredients together until combined; set aside.
- TO ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA: Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (avoiding large chunks of meat).
- Place 3 noodles in a single layer.
- Spread each noodle with 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture.
- Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzerella.
- Spoon 1 cup of sauce evenly over the cheeses.
- Repeat layering twice more.
- Place the remaining 3 noodles on top, cover with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzerella and the Parmesan.
- TO STORE: Wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator, about 24 hours).
- TO SERVE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat to 400 degrees. Unwrap the dish and cover tightly with aluminium foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray (or use nonstick foil). Place a rimmed baking sheet under the dish to catch any overspill. Bake until the sauce bubbles lightly around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until hot throughout and the cheese is browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
- TO SERVE RIGHT AWAY: Follow instructions above, reducing covered baking time to 15 minutes.
MY PRIVATE NOTES
RECIPE MADE WITH LOVE BY
Join The Conversation
I selected this recipe because it was good for making ahead of time- I find that lasagna is usually better when it’s had more time to set up anyway. But ironically I wasn’t able to make it in advance so had to prep and bake it right away and it was delicious!! Perfectly set up, not runny at all, full of lovely flavors. The only thing I added was freshly chopped parsley and basil on top. Excellent recipe.
Really wonderful! Easy to put together and delicious! I know what meatloaf mix is, but the first time I made it I wasn't thinking and bought a packet of meatloaf mix and mixed it in with regular ground beef - we loved it and I have made it that way ever since; it is the only thing that I have done differently from the recipe. I also made 8 and froze them for Christmas presents this year and everyone loved it.