Traditional grandma's lasagna that comes straight from Nonna's house

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It's generally recognized, especially in Italian cooking, that the grandmother (nonna) is the master chef of the family. Years of cooking experience always gives the nonna a magic touch when making certain dishes of expertise. This traditional grandma's lasagna features layers of tender pasta, ground beef, creamy mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, and a hearty tomato sauce that is made from scratch - no pre-made cans or bottles here!
The recipe below creates a classic traditional Italian-American lasagna. It is a perfect dish to bring to any potluck or outdoor picnic, or even just to serve your family any night of the week. While we're putting an extra amount of time into this recipe, you can feel free to use a pre-made pasta sauce if you're trying to make this in a pinch. Don't forget the most important and special ingredient in nonna's cooking: love!
Cooktop Cove
Traditional Grandma's Lasagna
45 mins
45 mins
2 hrs
½ pound ground chuck beef
½ pound ground sirloin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 dried lasagna noodles
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans (28oz each) chopped Italian tomatoes, liquid reserved
1 can (28oz) tomato purée
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1½ pounds sweet Italian crumbled sausage, casings removed
2 pounds fresh ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of thyme, tied together
¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
¼ teaspoon white sugar
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the ground chuck beef and sirloin to the skillet and cook together until all the meat has been browned. Add the oregano, garlic, and crushed red pepper to the meat, and stir until fragrant.
Stir in the tomato paste and combine with the meat until it is fully coated. Add the diced tomatoes (with its liquid), and the tomato purée to the skillet, along with the chicken stock, sugar, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.
When the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 90 mins, for the sauce to reduce and thicken. Stir occasionally. When mixture is finished reducing, remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
While the sauce is reducing, heat another skillet or heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat to the pan, and cook until cooked through and browned, approx 10 mins. Break up the sausage into crumbles as you cook it. When finished, remove from the heat, drain the sausage, and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parsley, basil, and ¼ cup of the parmesan. Add 2 cups of mozzarella to the bowl, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the egg to the bowl and blend all the cheeses together.
To prepare the lasagna noodles, cook them in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions for "al dente." When cooked, drain the pasta and immediately "shock" them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Dry off the pasta sheets between paper towels.
In a large 9x13" baking dish, start to build the lasagna by spreading one cup of the tomato sauce mixture around the bottom of the dish. Top the sauce with four pasta sheets, slightly overlapping them if needed. Next, spread half of the cheese mixture on top of the pasta. Top the cheese with half of the cooked sausage crumbles, followed by another 1½ cups of sauce, and another layer of pasta. Repeat this layering with the remaining ricotta, sausage, and another 1½ cups of sauce. Top with the final 4 pasta sheets and remaining 1½ cups of sauce. Sprinkle the very top with the remaining cup of mozzarella and remaining ¼ cup of parmesan.
Carefully place the lasagna in the oven (it will be heavy!) and allow to cook for 40-45 mins, until the top is golden brown, the edges are crisp, and the filling is hot and bubbling. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to sit about 15 mins before serving.
Cut into portions using a spatula serve on individual plates. Garnish with extra chopped basil, parsley, or parmesan cheese. Buon Appetito!
Pro-tip: Just like steak, lasagna is better served after it has rested outside the oven. If you serve it immediately from the oven, you'll just get a big soupy mess. Letting it rest allows it to retain its shape.
Pro-tip: You can prepare the lasagna a day or two in advance before baking.
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