It amazes me we do not yet have a recipe for lasagna on RFL yet! I've been making it often recently, and I think I am moving towards perfecting a recipe. That's the trouble with lasagna, is that there is so many different ways to make it, that it is hard to put it all down in one recipe. Here is a method I have cobbled together from a few different recipes, and it seems to be consistently yummy. The real secret to delicious lasagna is the sauce, so that is what you will be spending most of your time making in this recipe.
What's in it
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
1 bunch chopped fresh basil (divided)
oregano and other preferred italian spices
1 onion, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced (divided)
1 can marinara sauce (28 oz) or a couple jars of your favorite pasta sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pound uncooked italian sausage, removed from casing and chopped (can choose sweet, hot or cheesy herb, etc)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
lots of fresh spinach (at least one bag, if you are buying bagged, and don't forget to wash!)
2 blocks grated havarti cheese (or a mixture of havarti and mozzarella)
1 cup fresh grated parmesean cheese
optional: 1-2 cups cottage cheese
How it's made
Start by making the sauce. In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil and saute the onion, garlic (reserve some garlic for later) and sausage, until sausage is browned and onions are translucent, season with salt. Then add half the chopped basil and other italian seasonings you have on hand (oregano, thyme, chili flakes, etc). Saute until basil is wilted. Add sauce and tomatoes and bring to simmer. Simmer on low for at least a half hour, to blend the flavors.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients: Combine shredded cheeses in a bowl. Saute garlic in olive oil in a skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until water is evaporated from them, and they are mostly cooked (do not over cook). Add spinach and saute until spinach is wilted.
Once all ingredients are prepared, set up assembly line of noodles, sauce, mushroom/spinach, cheese, chopped basil. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, and pull out your large lasagna casserole dish. Spread small amount of sauce on bottom of pan, then layer noodles, sauce, mushroom/spinach, cheese and basil. You will be able to make three layers, but be sure to reserve sauce and cheese for very top (4th layer). It helps to apply even pressure to noodles once you lay them down, to compress all ingredients together, just try not to crack the noodles. Your top layer should just be sauce, and have some cheese set aside to sprinkle on top, later. Cover pan with foil (tight) and bake for at least a half hour, until bubbly. Remove foil, sprinkle cheese on top, and bake for another 10 minutes or so until cheese is melted and browned a bit. Remove from oven and let sand at least 20 minutes before serving.
The beauty of lasagna is you can add or subtract ingredients as you desire. You can add bell peppers or other veggies into the mushroom/spinach mixture. Or change up the cheese options. You can layer in sliced hard boiled eggs, as well. For a little more heat, use hot italian sausage and add more chili flakes to sauce. If you don't want to use sausage you can use ground beef. You can also make a huge batch of sauce and use more later for pasta or stuffed shells. Or freeze for next time.