Hearty meat & tomato lasagne

This is “traditional” lasagne – heavy on the tomatoes and mozzarella, with a ricotta and basil filling.

For the meat & tomato sauce
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (1 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves
1 lb. meatloaf mix (½ lb beef, 1/4 lb pork, 1/4 lb turkey or veal)
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1/4 c heavy cream
1 can (28 oz) pureed or crushed tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, drained

15 oz ricotta
2½ oz grated parmesan (1 1/4 c)
½ c chopped fresh basil (or 3T dried)
1 large egg
½ t pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla preferred)
16 oz. shredded mozzarella (4 c), whole-milk preferred

Heat oil in a heavy saute pan over medium heat, add onions for 2 minutes, then garlic for another 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add meat, salt and pepper. Cook 4 minutes, until meat has lost its raw color but isn’t browned. Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, leaving only the fat. Add tomatoes and simmer over low heat a few minutes to combine the flavors.

Mix ricotta, 1 c parmesan, basil, lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well-blended and creamy.

To assemble: smear bottom of a 9×13 pan with 1/4 cup of sauce. Put 3 noodles crosswise in the pan. Put 3 dollops of ricotta mixture on each noodle (about 1 T per dollop) and smush flat with a spoon to spread it out. Sprinkle with 1 c mozzarella, spoon 1½ c meat sauce evenly over cheese. Repeat two more times. Place remaining 3 noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle wirh remaining cup of mozzarella, then with remaining 1/4 cup of paremsan.

Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover lasagne. Don’t skip this step! If you dont’ cover it, the noodles wont’ cook; and if you don’t spray it the cheese will stick to it!

Back 15 minutes at 375 degrees, then remove foil. Return lasagne to oven and bake another 25 minutes, until cheese is potty brown and sauce is bubbling. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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