Copyright Thomas Saaristo  All Rights Reserved
Nonna's Lasagna
This lasagna uses homemade noodles, which results in a lighter dish, but dried
noodles will work fine.

You can make the sauce ahead of time … and the whole thing freezes beautifully.


For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper
1 can [29 ounces] tomato puree
2 cans [28 ounces each] crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
10 sprigs fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons grated Romano cheese

For the Ricotta filling:
1 container [32 ounces] whole-milk ricotta, drained in colander 1 hour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Freshly ground pepper

For the noodles:
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh lasagna noodles [see recipe below] OR 1 package [16 ounces] dried noodles

For assembly:
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

For the sauce, heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat;
add onion. Cook until onion is fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the beef, breaking it up with a spoon over medium-low heat, until browned,
about 10 minutes. Add the salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring
occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and the crushed tomatoes. Stir
in the dried basil. Increase heat to medium-high; heat to a boil. Stir in the basil sprigs
and sugar. Stir in the Romano cheese. Lower heat to a simmer; cook 1 hour.

Meanwhile, for the ricotta filling, break up the ricotta into small pieces in a large bowl;
mix in the beaten eggs, mozzarella, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest, juice, salt, sugar,
cinnamon and pepper to taste, stirring until smooth [do not overmix]. Taste; add
additional salt, sugar and/or lemon, if desired.

Heat oven to 350°

For the noodles, heat a roasting pan or large pan of water to a boil; add salt. Cook
noodles until al dente, 3-4 minutes, in batches if necessary [dried will take about 10
minutes]. Remove noodles with tongs to a baking pan, keeping them flat; add a bit of
the cooking water to keep pasta supple.

Pour one-fourth of the sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan; cover completely with one-third of the
noodles [overlapping is fine]. Add another one-fourth of the sauce; add half of the
ricotta mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan; top with 2 tablespoons of the
mozzarella. Cover with one-third of the noodles. Add another one-fourth of the
sauce; top with remaining ricotta mixture, remaining 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan
and remaining 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Cover with remaining third of the
noodles. Cover with remaining sauce. [You may have leftover noodles].

Cover pan with foil; bake 30 minutes; uncover. Bake until top is bubbly, about 15
minutes. Set aside to rest 20 minutes before cutting.

Lasagna Noodles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 extra-large [not jumbo] eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon each: olive oil, water

Sift flours into a food processor; sprinkle the salt over the flour. Set aside. Whisk the
3 whole eggs in a small bowl; whisk in the oil and water. With the machine running,
pour in the egg-oil mixture slowly; add egg yolk as mixture begins to form into a ball.
Process until dough is a buttery color and forms a smooth ball, about 30 seconds.
[Do not overmix]. Remove dough from food processor; knead dough about 1 minute.
Form into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap; let rest 10-30 minutes.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface; divide into four equal pieces. [Keep unused
dough wrapped in plastic while you work]. Lightly flour one of the dough pieces and
form into a disc; feed it through a pasta machine roller set at the thickest setting [No.
1]; repeat. Fold the dough strip into thirds or quarters to create a square; feed dough
through pasta machine six times, flouring as needed and decreasing thickness by one
setting each time, ending at No. 5 or No. 6, depending on the thickness desired.

Cut dough into 13-inch-long strips while soft; dry strips on a rack or on a board at
least 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Use immediately, or dry
completely, at least 24 hours; store in a large resealable food storage bag for up to 3