A Recipe for Lasagna with 4 Simple Ingredients and 8 Easy Steps
When I think of Italian comfort food, I immediately think of lasagna. A staple of Italian cooking and available on just about any restaurant menu that considers itself authentic Italian cuisine, lasagna is basically just layers of pasta covered in cheese and marinara sauce – what could be bad about that? Although lasagna recipes have unlimited variations, it’s best to keep it simple. With over 47 million search results when you google “lasagna recipe”, there are a lot of overly-complicated and excessively heavy recipes out there. Everyone has their favorite recipe for lasagna and mine originates with my mom.
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What You Don’t Know About Lasagna
The origins of lasagna are surprisingly up for debate. While commonly associated with Italy, laying flat pasta dough with sauce is actually a Greek invention called laganon. While the Greeks didn’t invent the hearty pasta dish we know and love, Italian lasagna got its name from the Greek method in which it was originally made.
Early lasagna recipes date back to the 14th century before tomatoes were prevalent in Europe and staple of Italian cooking. Naples, Italy is credited with the first lasagna-esque dish, featuring a fermented dough flattened into a thin sheet, boiled, sprinkled with cheese and spices. Later, chefs in Naples perfected the recipe into Lasagna di Carnevale, consisting of local sausage, small fried meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses, and ragù meat sauce. Another variation, Lasagna al Forno, comes from Emilia-Romagna (often considered the stomach of Italy due to its rich food history) and is layered with a thicker ragù meat sauce and Béchamel sauce.
More recently, lasagna entered into American pop-culture as the famous comic strip character Garfield’s favorite food. It was also the title of Weird Al Yankovic’s 1988 parody song of La Bamba entitled “Lasagna“. Irrespective of whether you read Garfield comics or listen to Weird Al Yankovic, you should feel free to take part in National Lasagna Day on July 29th.
Why This Simple Recipe?
Although there are innumerable recipes and ways to make lasagna, the following recipe is intended for chefs of all levels who want to make a simple, but delicious, lasagna using only 4 ingredients and 8 easy steps. If you want to freestyle and add a variation to your lasagna, then use this recipe as the base. Variations could include substituting a bolognese sauce for the marinara sauce, adding vegetables (recommend spinach), and/or using a different cheese (perhaps parmesan). This recipe should take approximately 45 minutes to make, from boiling the pasta, layering the noodles, cheese, and sauce, and cooking in the oven.
I like this recipe because it’s simple, quick, inexpensive and easy to remember. Variation or not, don’t forget cooking is supposed to be fun and it’s pretty hard to mess up pasta layered with cheese and tomato sauce.
Recipe and Ingredients
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
- Box of lasagna noodle pasta
- Mozzarella cheese (3 cups or large enough for 21 slices, do not buy shredded)
- 1 container of Ricotta cheese (15 oz)
- Jar of marinara sauce (24 oz jar)
- 9×13 baking pan
- Tin foil
- Large stock pot (for boiling noodles)
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Boil water in large stock pot.
- Once the water is boiling, place lasagna noodles in the pot and cook following instructions on noodle box. Drain noodles once complete. Set aside 3 “best looking” noodles and 9 slices of mozzarella for the top layer.
- Coat pan in a light layer of marinara sauce. This will help prevent the noodles from burning or sticking to the pan.
- Using 3 strips of lasagna noodles, place your first layer of noodles into the pan. Coat lightly with marinara sauce.
- Divide each noodle strip into thirds and switch-off layering each 3rd with ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Use a slice of mozzarella and a spoon-size serving for the ricotta.
- Repeat process for two more layers.
- Add the last layer of noodles (4 layers total), coat with pasta sauce and finish with mozzarella pieces set aside in step 2.
- Cover with tin foil and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove tin foil and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to finish. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with remaining marinara sauce.