So I’ve finally managed to cook something that both of my kids will eat, and that grownups will also eat. The first time I made it with this much crushed red pepper, I thought for sure that the kids wouldn’t eat it, but that’s apparently what makes it good!

*edited down the amount of spices–i eyeballed the measurements this time and found that even 1+ tablespoon made it pretty darned spicy!

Ingredients

  • 1 box of lasagna noodles
  • 1 15 oz. tub of ricotta cheese
  • about 2 teaspoons+ of crushed red pepper
  • about 1 teaspoon+ of dried oregano
  • about 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 8 oz. bags of shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1 8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 5 oz. tub of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 5 oz. tub of shredded romano cheese

Some Assembly Required

  1. In a roughly cauldron-sized pot, boil the lasagna noodles according to the package directions minus one minute.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, dump the tub of ricotta, and then shake on about ten times as much crushed red pepper as you think would be good. Seriously! Shake it on until you can no longer see any white! It seems like too much, but add a little more.
  3. Shake out a tablespoon plus a bit more of dried oregano into your palm, and then use your fingers to crush it over the ricotta. This releases more of the flavor.
  4. Do the same with the basil, but maybe a little less so the oregano can make it all Italiany.
  5. Stir the pepper flakes and herbs until they’re blended into the ricotta so that it looks like this. (See? Told you it could take a lot of crushed red pepper!)

  1. Drain the noodles and leave them in a strainer to cool until you can handle them.
  2. In a rectangular baking pan (9″ x 13″?), pour about a half a cup of spaghetti sauce, then tilt the pan around until it coats the bottom. This keeps the noodles from sticking to it.
  3. Lay out three lasagna noodles–they should just fit side-by-side. (This pan’s a little big–Mom gave me the “official” lasagna pan to use instead of the cake pan I’d been using.)
  4. Plop a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on one of the noodles, and, anchoring the near end of the noodle with a finger, spread it down the length of the noodle. It doesn’t need to be very thick, as we’ll have a bunch of layers. Repeat for the other two noodles.

    

  1. Sprinkle on a layer of the Italian shredded cheese mix (five or six cheese blend–usually includes several of the other cheeses we’re adding–hence the name of the recipe) until you have the ricotta pretty well covered, like this.

  1. Sprinkle on a thin layer of the shredded parmesan and another of the shredded romano cheese. This layer’s a lot thinner than the previous cheese layer.

  1. Spoon on some sauce. I do a couple of tablespoons down each noodle, and another tablespoon between each of those lines, then spread it out with the back of the spoon. If the cheese sticks to the spoon a lot, you need a little more sauce.

    

  1. Repeat each of these layers until you run out of noodles.
  2. On the top layer, after you add the sauce, slice up the ball of fresh mozzarella, and lay the slices on top of the whole lasagna.

  

  1. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let it cool for at least ten minutes before cutting and serving.

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