How to Make Lasagna: Photo Guide and Recipe
Growing up we had three refrigerators in our house. The first one was in the kitchen and used for everyday eating, the second fridge was in the garage, used for beverages and other random ingredients my Dad bought at Sam’s Club. And finally, there was the basement freezer. It was huge and very old – surely handed down from the 1950s. Because it was just a freezer it wasn’t used as much as the upstair refrigerators, but in retrospect it was full of the most delicious make-ahead meals. Frozen homemade raviolis, stuffed shells, and…lasagna were covered and waiting for a late family dinner when Mom needed something delicious in a pinch.
I can remember vividly the making of the lasagna too – before it was wrapped tightly and whisked away to the freezer. Every once in a while as a kid, I’d wake up on a Saturday to the entire kitchen covered in cooked sheets of lasagna noodles. The meat was sizzling on the stovetop, the sauce simmering, and I, not even able to see over the counter, was looking desperately for a way to get my hungry hands into something.
Mom would whip out dish after dish of homemade Italian goodness; our Mom was a “make-ahead Mom” long before it was the cool thing to be.
So, here I share with you one of my favorite dishes to keep in the freezer for a last-minute kind of night, including pictures of every single step. I use our family’s recipe for sauce, and everything else is based on what I could see growing up (once I grew taller than the countertops, that is).
homemade lasagna recipe
- Yield: Dinner for 8
- Prep Time: 45 Minutes
- Cook Time: 30-40 Minutes
- 1 Pound Lasagna Pasta
- 30 Ounces Whole Milk Ricotta
- 1 Cup Spinach, cooked
- ½ Cup Grated Parmesan + extra for layering
- 3 Pounds Ground Beef
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
- Marinara Sauce
- Shredded Mozzarella
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, empty the dry pasta into the pot and cook according to the directions on the box. Drain when finished cooking.
- While the pasta is cooking, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan with the Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes. Turn to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook all of the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Transfer to another bowl.
- Keep a couple tablespoons of the juice from the beef in the sauté pan, turn the heat to medium-high, and add the fresh spinach. Cook until all of the spinach has wilted.
- In a food processor, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper and blend it all together.
- Prepare to layer the lasagna by creating stations: Have your drained ground beef mixture, marinara sauce, boiled pasta, ricotta mixture, Parmesan, and mozzarella all at hand. Start with a deep roasting pan and a thin layer of sauce on the bottom, so the noodles do not stick to the pan. Next, lay out a single layer of pasta, then smear the ricotta mixture over the pasta, and spoon a layer of the ground beef. Top the beef with the shredded mozzarella and a hearty shake of Parmesan. Spoon more sauce over the cheese and add another layer of pasta. Continue with all of the layers until the roasting pan is full.
- When you are close to the top of the pan, finish with a layer of sauce over the pasta and a little more shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cover tightly in plastic wrap.
- Store the lasagna in the refrigerator. When you are ready to enjoy it, replace the plastic wrap with foil and pop it into an oven that’s been preheated to 400 degrees; bake for 30-40 minutes.
lasagna tips and tricks
- If you are making this several days, even weeks, ahead of time, store it in the freezer. Thaw before baking, or bake the still-frozen lasagna for about an hour or more (the general rule for baking unthawed meals is to cook 1½ times the recommended time).
- This recipe is a great canvas to play with the flavors you like the most: If you want more heat, add some more red pepper flakes to the meat. Use whatever sauce you have on hand or your family’s secret recipe. Add more garlic, or more cheese…tailor this to your tastes!
–remembered and relayed by Caitlin
–edited by Kelly
–photography editing by Molly