"My Good Lasagna"

I’m no stranger to lasagna recipes – I’ve posted two others to this blog before. But both my previous recipes – for Peg’s Lasagna (non-vegetarian, rather rich) and Vegetarian Lasagna (elaborate but worth it) – are a bit time-consuming. This one involves far less prep and has an easy, logical workflow – the kind of dish you could make while babysitting someone else’s kids. This is a vegetarian version with a generous helping of broccoli – a vegetable enjoying a lot of rotation at my house currently.

olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. can tomato paste
14.5 oz can petite dice or crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar
15 oz. ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
8 ounces shredded mozzerella cheese
8 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar
12 lasagna noodles (you can also use 9; 12 is half of most packages)
2 heads broccoli

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil until soft. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, water, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil then turn down and allow to gently simmer uncovered for one hour.

Mix up ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Set aside. Grate cheeses on a plate and set aside.

Prepare the noodles. Now, my FOO used to just throw the noodles in to boil and inevitably a few would break up and you’d just sort of piece them together when you layered. Now, that’s fine: so is the recent rash of “no-boil” varieties. But I’ve found lasagna is far best served by making noodles with a little care. Boil a large salted pot of water, add the noodles in a few at a time, and stir carefully for the duration of cooking (usually about 10 minutes). When they are cooked through, pour them out gently, cool them with water, and set each one aside on waxed paper or foil. Cover with a dishcloth until you’re ready for them.

Wash and cut broccoli into medium-sized florets. Blanch in boiling water for five minutes; drain and douse in ice bath. Drain again and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and layer lasagna as follows: spread one cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Cover sauce with 4 (3) noodles. Cover noodles with one-third of remaining sauce. Top with half the grated cheeses. Place another layer of noodles and one of sauce over the mozzarella; top that with the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with remaining 4 (3) noodles and remaining sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes. Top with broccoli and sprinkle with reserved cheddar cheese. Bake 15 inutes more or until golden and bubbly.

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