This is Marie, contributing a post about a lasagna made for Christmas dinner. It had been quite a while since I’d made one, and since the previous one I’d eaten (at a restaurant) was truly exceptional, the thought came back periodically that lasagna really needed to be on the menu options soon now that the weather was cool. Then the Red Gold company reached out and offered to send some of their tomatoes (we’d worked with them before on some really nice burgers here) and they were good, so I was happy to try another of their recipes.
They sent this lovely package with tomatoes, noodles, and a coupon for some Laura’s Lean Beef (make sure to go to their site to try for a package like this for yourself! More details below). All I needed to provide was the herbs and cheese. I happened to have some stray fresh mozzarella from a previous day’s recipe, but the majority of what went in was shredded packaged cheese.
I followed the recipe they provided pretty well, except for adding onions and sweet peppers, and dividing the recipe between two pans as there would be way too much for us to eat in one go. The recipe as shown would comfortably serve eight to ten, depending on appetite, and we had only three adults and a toddler to feed. I also left off the ricotta, since my husband isn’t fond of it – I added a little more tomato sauce and a lot more mozzarella to compensate.
The recipe looks like it takes a crazy amount of tomato, but that’s because the pasta cooks in the pan. That is really ideal, as handling hot, slippery (or cold, sticky) noodles is part of why people get daunted by the prospect of lasagna. You really don’t need to add peppers and onions as I did, it’s just that it takes very little time to add that step, since it’s done in the same pan that cooked the beef. Here is the tomato mixed with herbs, meat, and the tomatoes and peppers. Lasagna is really very simple once the ingredients are gathered. Start with a layer of sauce, alternate noodles and cheese until the top of the pan is reached, then scatter Parmesan on top. Cover and bake.
You could also divide the crushed tomatoes and cover the bottom of the pan instead of having the full chunky sauce for the bottom layer. It would help keep the noodles from being quite so bumpy on the bottom.
One note: I hadn’t generally worked with Laura’s before, because I believe in using higher fat meat so as to get more flavor. It was a pleasure working with this product, though; look at this pan. It contains all the fat that as left after the meat was cooked. Usually I soften the onion in the leftover fat from frying the meat, but had to add olive oil for that step because there was hardly any grease at all left in the pan. However, the meat was not dry at all, and had lots of flavor. Blew some of my preconceptions, there!
Recipe as provided: “Easy Classic Lasagna”
1/2 cup water
1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes (classic or with basil, garlic & oregano)
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basic. garlic & oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt to taste
1 lb Laura’s Lean Beef or any ground beef, Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1 (16 oz) box UNCOOKED lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions with a couple of parenthetical comments added
Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine water, crushed & diced Red Gold tomatoes, salt, cooked ground beef, and seasoning (I added more garlic, the peppers and onions, and basil leaves; I am also partial to the tubes of crushed fresh herbs since they last through several recipes without wilting, and have more flavor than dried mix). Cover the bottom with the mix, then arrange 1/3 of the noodles slightly overlapping. Layer alternately with 1/2 of ricotta, 1 cup cheese, 1 cup sauce, and noodles. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil (leave a gap below the top of the pan so the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil, or tent the foil) Cook 1 to 1.5 hours or until noodles are cooked. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Yes, the tomatoes were provided by the company so you can take this with however big a grain of salt you wish – but my husband ate the unfinished chunks of tomato off the girlchild’s plate when she gave up before finishing her portion. It’s a really satisfactory brand.
If you would like to have a chance to win an apron, or a package similar to the one we got plus a lasagna pan, go to the Red Gold site here: http://www.redgoldtomatoes.com/lasagna between January 13 and February 3. If you are already a Red Gold fan, they would like to see your pictures tweeted with #redgoldrecipes #lasagna
(As noted, this was a media offer and our meal was mostly complimentary. It’s our policy to always note when we’ve received our meal without charge. If you would like to invite us to your restaurant’s media events or your product launches, please drop Grant a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
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