Step away from the box!

This post is for Wendy and anyone else who is thinking about eating nasty lasagna from a cardboard box.

 B & G has a hilarious video up that speaks of the truths behind real Italian cooking. Be sure to check it out!

Here it is in 15-20 easy to follow steps:

Momma J’s ‘Ta Die For’ Italian Lasagna (that would be me)


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled carrots
Lots and lots of minced garlic (I never seem to measure this but 6 to 8 cloves should work)
16 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree

(I like to add a couple chopped fresh tomatoes also … for the added flavor and texture)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoon golden brown sugar
2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 or 3 bay leaves (to be pulled out after sauce has cooked)
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

15 lasagna noodles (do not use the “no-boil” pasta, they absorb too much of the moisture)

2 15-ounce containers ricotta cheese
2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

2 1/2 cups grated provolone cheese

1 Medium eggplant, peeled and sliced thinly

1 Large portabella mushroom, thinly sliced

FOR SAUCE: Heat oil in a very large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and three quarters of the garlic; sauté until softened, about 12 minutes. Add sausages to pan; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat as it cooks. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend. The longer this simmers the better! If I have time, I let it simmer for a few hours. (This sauce is really good for spaghetti too.)

FOR LASAGNA: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to the water. Boil until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Cheese Mixture: Combine ricotta and 1 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

In another large pan melt 1/4 cup of butter, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in sliced mushrooms, eggplant and remainder of minced garlic; sauté until just barely soft. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of deep Lasagna baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with half of mozzarella and provolone cheese mozzarella cheese, place thin layer of eggplant and mushrooms, cover with 1 1/2 to 2 cups sauce. Repeat layers until you run out of pan. Top layer should be sauce and remaining Parmesan cheese. If I have any extra Feta cheese in the fridge, I sprinkle it on the top layer.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 30 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

As in all Italian home cooking, I honestly eyeball most of the ingredients. If you have extra sauce, add more eggplant and mushrooms and freeze for many other dishes! If you don’t use all the ricotta filling … it tastes great on crackers.

Not for those who are dieting or are lactose intolerant. This is my “I am officially off my diet” dinner! We have it for Christmas dinner or special occasions when I have time to play in the kitchen. (worth the time)



13 Responses to “Step away from the box!”

  1. Allison Says:

    Looking at your tags, and I’m intrigued about the IMHO following “Olive Garden Sucks”. I’m very intimidated by your recipe! (I’m a cardboard girl).

  2. betme Says:

    In My Heartfelt Opinion… Olive Garden food, have very little flavor.

    Think of the recipe as a great challenge. I make the sauce in large batches and freeze it for many quick meals.

    If you can make yummy pumpkin rolls, you can make this. I promise!

  3. joanharvest Says:

    By the time I took out all the unapproved weight watchers ingredients, I wouldn’t have much left. But it sure looks good. I think I’ll save it for when I reach my goal and I can once in awhile eat food with cheese, my favorite stuff ever.

  4. Wendy Says:

    This sounds sooooo good. I’ve always wanted a real Italian sauce and I have all these ingredients. Thank you so much for posting this. I’d like to try it next week. I’m on the South Beach diet but once a week I eat carbs… this week I’ve ruined with my microwave lunch. But next week I’ll definitely hold out and make this. Thanks for posting it, I know how tedious it can be typing in a recipe. I appreciate it.

  5. kaylee Says:


  6. becky Says:

    Except for the carrots, eggplant and portabello mushrooms, this could be my grandmother’s recipe!! I like your version, and will try it soon–next time I get to play in the kitchen! By the way, my grandmother always cooked her sauce for 3-4 days, the first day she had flank steaks (cut in thin slices) and meatballs which we would pick out for sandwiches, but the beef flavor stayed in her sauce; and she always said to pour boiling water over the tomatoes, pinch the peels off, and try to pick out the seeds because they make sauce bitter, as do the skins on the eggplant. Thanks betme, and my husband says thanks too!

  7. thegirlfromtheghetto Says:

    I’m an Italian girl who makes a kick-butt lasagne, but I tell you, Costco sells a great frozen lasagne, if a person is desperate.

  8. betme Says:

    Joan ~ I wish I had your self control. When it comes to food, I am a comfort food eater more times than not.

    Wendy ~ It is my favorite sauce recipe. I often make variations of it depending on ingedients I have or don’t have around the house. It is just as good with or without the carrots. That is an ingredient that Grammie always added.

    Kaylee ~ I wish I could bottle some up and send it to you… hmmm, let me think on that.

    Becky ~ My Grammie’s recipe did not include eggplant or portabello mushrooms either. That was my own twist for our families taste. Grammie also had 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 Italian sausage. Mr. J does not care much for ground beef, so I altered that as well. I blanch the tomatoes as well to remove the peel. But I am not too careful about removing the seeds. I will try to be more attentive. Thanks for the tip!

    I remember Grammie had a huge stock pot on the back of the stove for days too. The longer it simmers, the better… The longest I have ever simmered my sauce is about 1/2 a day due to time constraints and lack of patience.

    GhettoGirl ~ I will keep that in mind for quick fixins. Schwan’s Ice Cream delivery used to sell a vegetarian lasagna that I enjoyed. Question for you; How does your family respond to the store bought version after having eaten your good home-made version?

  9. Just a Mom Says:

    I am guilty of using the no-boil noodles. My mom taught me this lazy habit, I mean shortcut! P.S. For all you dieters out there, everything in moderation is ok. A slice of lasagna is alright eating half of the lasagna is bad! Trust me I have lost 65 pounds in ten months without a “diet”.

  10. boundandgags Says:

    Sounds great.

    Now if I only cooked. . .

  11. betme Says:

    Mom ~ I use a lot of shortcuts thru the week. On the weekends however, I pull out all the stops. I am so glad that you told me about the eating half the lasagna rule. Good grief, I hate to think what would happen to my butt if I would have indulged! CONGRATS on the excellent dieting progress.

    B&G ~ You are selling yourself short. Think of it as editing a long novel and just toss out the steps that are added fluff. Ya know, salt and oregano parts… 😉

  12. boundandgags Says:

    Thanks for the boost but, no, I’m not. I burned popcorn. I know what I’m good at (sleeping) and what I’m not (awake) and stay within those lines as much as posible. I am someone who believes kitchen is a French word for passageway to the backyard. When I told an agent I was working on a book on cooking he was quite shocked. Until I told him the first chapter was picking a fire extinguisher. I never finished it because, and this came as a complete surprise to me, people want cooking directions in books like that.

  13. betme Says:

    Don’t feel bad B&G. My baby sister once caused the fire department to be sent to her apartment. She was boiling water. I am serious! She left the stove on with a plastic mixing spoon in the pot. It boiled dry and melted the spoon causing a thick black smoke to fill her apartment.

    We still laugh at her because she is the only person we know who cannot boil water.

    People want cooking directions? WTF, are they morons? hahaha… you should write the book and omit the directions. The title could be “Cooking for know-it-alls” Every page could just have the name of the dish and a picture. Under the picture it will read: You already know what the ingredients are, so we see no point in listing them or boring you with instructions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: