There’s a time and a place for everything, right? And sometimes we just don’t have time to make a béchamel and go crazy with our homemade lasagna – but that doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious. Here’s my simple tricks for the BEST basic lasagna.
SHOPPING LIST: 2 boxes of lasagna noodles, 1 32 oz. ricotta cheese, 1 jar pesto sauce, 2 jars tomato sauce, 1 egg, parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella, garlic salt
Quick chat about the noodles. I happen to love the No-Boil lasagna noodles because they are SUPER thin and well, duh, you don’t have to pre-cook them BUT if you are into the ruffle edges, you just need to par-cook your lasagna noodles in heavily salted boiling water until they are pliable and super al dente (about 4-5 minutes). Make sure you toss these lasagna noodles in olive oil after straining to make sure your noodles don’t stick together! Whether you have firm no-boil lasagna sheets or semi-cooked pasta, you’ll proceed the same way moving forward.
There’s really only one more step before we begin building our lasagna. In a large bowl, crack 1 egg and mix with a fork. Then, empty the entire contents of your ricotta cheese and pesto sauce into the same bowl. Add 1 tsp. of garlic salt and MIX well. This is the hack here – adding the pesto to the ricotta cheese flavors your cheese layer because honestly, ricotta cheese is actually pretty bland and needs a little sprucing up.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Now, take your glass baking dish and using the back of a spoon, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. ALWAYS start your lasagna with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Next, begin with your first layer of noodles. I typically end up with 3 sheets of pasta going horizontally (so the shorter direction of your rectangular dish). Next, about 5-6 dollop of the ricotta cheese mixture, again using the back of your spoon to gently spread the ricotta. Top the ricotta with a thin layer of tomato sauce, a general sprinkle of parmesan cheese and then another 3 sheets of pasta. After I add each sheet of pasta I like to gently press down on the noodles to really “squish” (for lack of a better word) the previous layers to really makes sure that the edges and corners are taken care of. Continue this process until you are at the top of your baking dish – or run out of noodles. After your lay the top layer of pasta down, finish with a TON of tomato sauce (I like my lasagna to cook almost in a pool of tomato sauce so again, the edges are soft and cooked through) followed by a generous covering of shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of garlic salt.
Cover your baking dish with tin foil and bake your covered lasagna in the oven for 30 minutes. Un-cover your lasagna, raise the heat to 400 degrees and continue baking 10-15 minutes or until the top of your lasagna is blistered and bubbling. NOW! PAY ATTENTION!!!! Do NOT serve the lasagna immediately or it will fall apart. The lasagna needs to settle – kind of like how a steak needs to rest after being cooked. Re-cover your lasagna and allow it cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This goes without saying – but honestly, leftover lasagna reheated the following day is ALMOST better than the first go around for me.