Monday, June 13, 2011

The Perfect Homecoming Meal...or Any Night

In honor of my brother-in-law coming home from Kuwait after a long one year deployment away from his home and family, I thought I would share my favorite homecoming meal idea. Lasagna! Who doesn't love lasagna?

My husband has been deployed twice and every time he comes home on leave or for good at the end of his deployment, he always asks me to make my famous lasagna.

This recipe is the perfect remedy for your loved one adjusting back into home life. He or she will feel right at home. It's a sure bet. I make this lasagna at family fuctions, holidays, halloween (which I name it 'lasagna to die for') and of course for homecomings.

People tell me all the time that it's the best lasagna they've ever had, so I figured I would share it. I don't know if it's in my Italian blood to create delicious Italian food, but with this step by step recipe it won't matter what your nationality you's sure to impress. Again, who doesn't love lasagna?

First, I'm going to start with the sauce/gravy (whatever you'd like to call it). This can be used for any pasta dish.

4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 finely chopped onion
4 cartons of Pomi strained tomatoes (you can find them at most grocery stores, if you can't - any can of strained tomatoes will do - the bigger ones - not the 15 oz cans)
Dried spices to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano, parsley, cinnamon (just a touch)
1 lb. ground chuck
4 sweet Italian sausages (meat squeezed out of casings)


Start with a sauce pot, drizzle 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in pot, bring up to med-high heat. Saute onions until translucent and add garlic for a minute more. Add all 4 cartons/cans of tomato sauce, add all dried spices. Stir to combine. Lower to a simmer and pop a lid on it, allow a little steam to escape by propping the lid up a bit to leave an exit for steam.

In a 10 or 12 inch skillet, add the remaining 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Heat to med-high, add ground beef and sausage meat  and cook until browned. Add meat mixture to pot with the sauce. Let it simmer all day if you can. The longer it simmers....the better the sauce will be. I make it earlier in the morning that day and let it sit until it's time to assemble the lasagna.

If the sauce isn't sweet enough (some times the tomatoes or the sausage aren't as sweet as usual- add some white sugar to will really make a difference).

After allowing the sauce to simmer all day it's time to assemble the lasagna. Here are your instructions.

15 oz container of ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
12 pieces of Oven Ready Lasagna (uncooked and unsoaked) - I use Ronzoni
4 cups of shredded mozzrella cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, egg, basil and oregano. In a 13x9x2 baking dish, spread 3/4 cup of the meat sauce. Place 3 pieces of lasagna crosswise over sauce. Don't let pieces overlap or touch side of pan. Spread 2/3 cup of ricotta mixture over noodles. Spread another 3/4 cup sauce over ricotta completely covering it. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat these layering steps 2 or 3 more times. Then, top with remaining 3 pieces of lasagna. sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until it's hot and bubbly!!!!! Let it stand for 5 minutes.

It serves: 10 to 12 normal people....but in our case, 8 

Give it a try! I would love to know what you think or add any suggestions!