Lasagne with Fresh Tomato Sauce

It’s cold here. It’s cold everywhere (except that “F” state!) When the water is too cold for your reverse cycle heat to function, it’s time to break out the ceramic space heaters. And bake, roast, broil or braise. Now is when you want a warm oven to help heat your cabin. And a big pan of lasagna will do the trick. Lasagna is one of those traditional meals that seems to have fallen out of its ’70s heydays. I guess it’s too heavy, too much fat and way too many carbs for today’s healthy eating habits. But portion control reigns and we’re going to skip the processed jars of spaghetti sauce. We’re going to make this sauce using fresh tomatoes.

Classic Lasagna with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage
4 lbs tomatoes, 7-8 medium tomatoes
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons hot peppers, optional or to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste
Fresh ground pepper

Cheese mixture
24 oz Ricotta Cheese
1 large egg
4 cups Mozarella (separate out 1/2 cup for top
1 cup Parmesan plus 1/2 cup more for top
grating of nutmeg

1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Chop the onions, mince the garlic and remove the seeds from about half of the tomatoes. Tomato sauce for lasagna needs to be a bit thicker that regular pasta sauce so to reduce the extra liquid I like to remove some of the tomato seeds. Just cut the tomatoes into wedges and slide out the seeds with clean fingers. Then dice the tomatoes.

In a large sauce pan heat the EVOO and sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant. Add the meat and cook through until browned.

Add the diced tomatoes, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning and hot peppers. Let cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

After 30 minutes the mixture should be reduced to a sauce. Add the honey, tomato paste; salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 10 minutes on low to thicken up.

Set aside and mix up the cheeses. Combine all cheese ingredients with the egg in a large bowl. Grate on some nutmeg. No need for salt.

Now begin building the lasagna layers. In a 9×13″ cake pan, ladle a thin layer of sauce. Add the uncooked, oven-ready lasagna noodles on top. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture onto the noodles. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce onto the cheese. Repeat 2 more times for 3 layers. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Best served with a side Caesar salad and red wine on a cold night in the cabin.

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