This family recipe for authentic Italian lasagna is straight from Italy, passed down through generations, with a flavor that will transport you to a bistro overlooking the Amalfi Coast.
I am so thrilled to be able to share the third installment of a 3-part series of related authentic Italian recipes this week. Thanks to my friend Joel and his mom Mary Ann who shared their generations old family recipes with me, we started with Authentic Italian Meatballs, then Authentic Italian Sunday Sauce, both of which are used to make this final dish, authentic Italian lasagna.
Invest The Time To Make This From Scratch
Why should you make this from scratch? In Kevin’s words, “This is the best lasagna I’ve ever had anywhere — including Italy.”
When I first saw this recipe and realized that it required making the meatballs, the Sunday sauce and then the lasagna, I thought it was going to be difficult. I want to emphasize that this recipe is not difficult, it is actually easy. But it is time consuming. You have to first make the meatballs which isn’t difficult but takes a while. Then you have to make the sauce which is fast and easy to put together, but takes 3 hours to slow simmer. Then you have to get your lasagna ingredients together and assemble the lasagna which is easy. But it takes a little time to cook the noodles and mix up the meat sauce and ricotta cheese blend.
Some days I like to have a big cooking project to fill the day, starting in the morning and ending with a delicious dinner and bottle of wine. This certainly works for that! And it also makes a wonderful family cooking project. There are lots of safe ways to involve kids in making the meatballs, sauce and lasagna. This is a great way to get them excited about cooking, and ends with a food that they love. Win!
Break it Into Stages if it Seems Overwhelming
If you don’t have the time for a big cooking project, breaking this into stages works. I made the meatballs on a Thursday evening, the Sunday sauce on Friday, and then assembled the lasagna on Saturday morning and put it in the refrigerator for the flavors to steep for the day. Then I popped it in the oven an hour before company arrived. I served it with a Caesar salad compliments of Joel’s wife Becky, along with some hot garlic bread. A spectacular dinner!
Authentic Italian Lasagna is About Preparation
Lasagna comes together quickly once you have all the ingredients ready, but it takes time to prepare everything before assembly. Follow these steps to get it ready:
- Make the meatballs and the sauce.
- Mash 10 meatballs and 4 sausages from the Sunday sauce. Then add 12 cups of sauce to it to make a ground meat sauce.
- Cook the lasagna noodles until very al dente. I cook them in a large stockpot with a little olive oil and a little kosher salt in the water. Cook for the minimum amount of time recommended, immediately drain into a colander and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Take a couple of large cookie sheets sprayed with non-stick spray and when the noodles are rinsed cold, lay them out on the cookie sheets making sure they don’t touch.
- Make the ricotta mixture in a bowl.
- Have a pot of warm Sunday Sauce ready.
- Set the shredded mozzarella nearby.
Assembling the Lasagna
Now you’re ready to assemble the lasagna! This recipe, with one pound of noodles, will make one 9 x 13 tray of lasagna with 4 layers of noodles and lots of Sunday sauce leftover to use as a pasta topping with the same meal or as leftovers. You can easily get two 9 x 13 trays of lasagna from this recipe, but you’ll need to cook 2 pounds of lasagna for that. I made two trays of lasagna and still had plenty of Sunday Sauce leftover.
Layers go as follows:
- Plain Sunday Sauce
- Ricotta mixture
- Meat Sauce
- Repeat, ending with a layer of noodles on top. Add plain sauce to the top of the noodles, then sprinkle heavily with mozzarella cheese.
You can either cover this and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook, or pop it in the oven immediately at 375 degrees for one hour. Serve with a salad, garlic bread, and red wine.
32 ounce container ricotta cheese
15 ounce container ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound lasagna noodles
1 recipe Old World Authentic Italian Sunday Sauce
10 Old World Authentic Italian Meatballs from the Sunday Sauce, smashed
4 Italian Sausages from the Sunday Sauce, smashed
16 oz bag shredded Mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Make the meatballs and the Sunday sauce.
- Mash 10 meatballs and 4 sausages from the Sunday sauce and add 12 cups of sauce to it to make a ground meat sauce.
- Cook the lasagna noodles until very al dente. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Lay noodles on a couple of large cookie sheets sprayed with non-stick spray making sure they don’t touch.
- In a large bowl mix the ricotta cheese, eggs, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
1. Begin with a layer of plain Sunday sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
2. Add a layer of noodles.
3. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles.
4. Pour a layer of meat sauce over the ricotta cheese mixture.
5. Repeat all of the layers until you run out of noodles, ending with a layer of noodles on top. Pour a layer of Sunday sauce over the noodles, the cover the top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
6. Cover the lasagna pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes, until lasagna is bubbling and has a light brown crust.
7. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before cutting.
Take a couple of large cookie sheets sprayed with non-stick spray and when the lasagna noodles are rinsed cold, lay them out on the cookie sheets making sure they don’t touch until you’re ready to use them.
This recipe makes enough for two 9 x 13 trays of lasagna. If you want to make two, you will need to cook two pounds of lasagna noodles.
If desired, you can add a layer of fresh spinach leaves while assembling the lasagna.