Monday, October 7, 2013

Company Lasagna & the Salad I'm obsessed with right now {recipes}

We hosted an old friend for dinner the other night and I wanted to make dinner special but not at all fussy. Plus, I didn't want to spend most of my Saturday cooking and preparing. My go-to recipe is a simple lasagna. I don't even pull out the recipe anymore, I know it by heart and it's easy to memorize. It's also fun to add in surprise ingredients and change the flavor around a little bit. I think the key to a good lasagna is a short list of quality ingredients. Here's how I do mine... I'd love to hear what your favorite lasagna recipe is and try it, too!

Ashley's Lasagna
{all ingredients can be found at Whole Foods}
Serves 8-10

1 package RP's fresh lasagna sheets (refrigerator section)
2 jars Rao's Marinara Sauce (will only use 1 1/2 jars)
1 16 oz container good quality ricotta cheese
16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C grated parmesan
3/4 lb good quality ground beef, browned and drained of fat

*optional ingredients: thinly sliced and sauteed mushrooms or eggplant, frozen chopped spinach that has been thawed and drained of moisture (my favorite), can substitute ground beef for sausage...

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 glass pyrex baking dish.
Pour enough marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to cover it completely.
Lay 2 sheets of lasagna noodles over the sauce.
Spread 1/3 of the ricotta onto the lasagna noodles.
Layer on all of the ground beef (or sausage) and then cover with marinara sauce (about 1 C).
Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese on top. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Layer 2 more sheets of lasagna noodles, then 1/3 of the ricotta, and then any additional ingredient/veggie if you choose (seriously, try the spinach, it's heavenly).
Cover with marinara sauce (again about 1C) and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Layer last 2 sheets of lasagna noodles, remainder of ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 C of sauce (pressing a spoon down between the sides of the dish and the noodles to ensure that the sauce surrounds the lasagna ingredients around the edges) and the remainder of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, adding a little more if necessary.

Cover with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, then uncover with foil when the lasagna seems to be baked all the way through. Bake uncovered for an additional 5-15 minutes until the top layer of cheese begins to brown on the edges. Remove from oven, let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Pairs well with:

Ashley's Simple Italian Salad
Serves 4

1 package prewashed, chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 C grated parmesan
Thinly sliced red onion
Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 of a cucumber, cut in half again and thinly sliced
Handful of fresh mozzarella pearls (little balls of fresh mozzarella)
Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
1 C garlic and butter croutons

Layer all ingredients in order listed in a large salad bowl, drizzling the dressing lightly and finishing with croutons.

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