This Dusty Kitchen: Best Lasagna Ever

Claiming that this is the best lasagna ever is dangerous, I know. I’m sure everyone has their own best-lasagna-ever recipe. This one just happens to be mine.

This is how I found it:

Late in 2013, we got our attic spray foamed. You may remember – we spent two nights in a dog-friendly hotel in order to keep the dogs and the newly forming pack of cells growing inside me safe from the potentially harmful fumes. For 24 hours, I had access to cable television, something we’ve never bothered with in our house, opting for the commercial-free bliss of Netflix instead.

I binged on the Food Network. Oh, did I binge. It was delightful.

The show was Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry. I was fascinated by the presence of sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and zucchini. Lots of veggies, without compromising the flavour, perhaps?

(Despite what the Food Network claims, even though this may be a lighter lasagna than most, it’s still lasagna, in it’s cheesy, pasta-y goodness. By no means would I call this ‘diet’ food, or even, necessarily ‘healthy’ food. Though, it’s not really bad for you either, unless you eat the whole casserole dish.)

I’ve made it twice now, not quite following the recipe to the T either time, but both times, it’s come out delightful, nearly perfect. This is how a recipe becomes the best ever: little tweaks to fit to personal preference, elevating a recipe to the household hall of fame. I don’t think I’ll ever use another recipe for lasagna again.

This Dusty Kitchen’s Favourite Lasagna Recipe
adapted from Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry

In a bowl, pour boiling water over

5 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)

and leave to soak.

Cook up

9 lasagna noodles, preferably whole wheat.

In a large sauce pan or pot, heat

2 teaspoons olive oil.

Add, and cook until translucent,

1 ½ cups chopped red onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Add and cook until no longer pink

2 pounds extra-lean beef

Add and cook briefly,

1 cup packed grated unpeeled zucchini

then add

2 cans of your favourite marinara sauce. 
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Chop the soaked sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the sauce.

In a bowl, mix together

2 cups light ricotta cheese
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry and chopped, or one bag of fresh spinach, wilted slightly on the stove
1 egg

And, don’t forget to shred

As much marble cheese, or another cheese of your choice, as needed. How much will depend on how cheesy you want it.

Now, comes the layering! This is a good time to preheat your oven to 375*.

Start with a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish to prevent sticking. Lay three cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce. Over the noodles, spoon approximately 1/3 of the meat sauce, then sprinkle with as much cheese as you like. Lay three more lasagna noodles down. Spoon approximately 1/3 of the meat sauce on the noodles. Spoon all the ricotta mix over the meat sauce. Lay down three more lasagna noodles. Spoon the remaining meat sauce over the noodles, then cover with as much sprinkled cheese as desired.

So, just to reiterate, you’re going to layer like this:

  • Meat sauce
  • Noodles
  • Meat sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Noodles
  • Meat sauce
  • Ricotta mix
  • Noodles
  • Meat sauce
  • Shredded cheese

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the casserole, and bake for a final 10 minutes. Let the lasagna sit on your stove, torturing you with its hunger-inducing smell for 10 minutes before serving up.

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