Lasagna: From the Old Country to You

Sundays were always a special day when I was growing up– it was a time for our family to get together and spend time enjoying each others company.  Of course, that always meant a large meal, usually where tomato sauce was involved and a several course meal.  Perhaps no other dish screams Sunday afternoon or special occasion such as lasagna.  In episode 20, we share one of my most beloved recipes, hand delivered to you from how I remember it from my mother and the stories from the old country in Italy.  My granddaughter, Maléna, joins me in cooking up this lasagna– her special touch adds a lot!

malena cooking

Mama Lombardo cooking with her granddaughter, Maléna

My lasagna takes about 1 hour to prepare.  The recipe I share is for a large lasagna pan, approximately 22 inches long, 10 inches wide and 3-4 inches deep.  You can make the lasagna any size you’d like– simply modify the amount of the ingredients.  I like to have left over lasagna since it stays well and makes for a great meal anytime.

You’ll need the following ingredients for this recipe:

  • tomato sauce and meatballs (see episode 1 for the full recipe)
  • 1-2 pounds of lasagna pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 pounds of ricotta cheese
  • 6-7 tablespoons of grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4-5 long sprigs of Italian parsley, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozarella cheese
  • salt and pepper

Put the ricotta cheese in a large bowl.  Mix in the eggs, chopped parsley, a couple tablespoons of romano cheese and salt and pepper.  Mix together thoroughly, then set aside.

lasagna

Mama Lombardo’s lasagna

Cover the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce.  Layer the cooked lasagna pasta length-wise, covering the bottom of the pan. Using a large spoon, place spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese on top of the lasagna pasta.  You want enough so that you can spread it out with a spoon, covering all of the pasta.  Add 1-2 ladels of tomato sauce on top of the ricotta.  Using a fork, mix the ricotta and sauce, spreading it out evenly on top of the pasta.  Next, break up 2 meatballs with a fork into large chunks.  Spread the meatballs in with the ricotta and sauce mix on top of the pasta.  When completed, place another layer of pasta on top, completing covering the ricotta, sauce and meatball mix.  Repeat the same process with the ricotta, sauce and meatballs until you have enough layers to reach the top of the pan.  At the end of the final layer, spread the shredded mozzarella cheese on top, then place another layer of pasta on top of that.  This is your final topping.  Spread some tomato sauce over the top, then sprinkle some grated cheese.   You are now ready to put it in the oven!

Place the finished pan of lasagna into the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when the top layer starts to look slightly browned.  Take it out of the oven, let it cool off for 10-15 minutes, then serve!

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