Saturday morning on the Food Network, Tyler Florence made "the ultimate lasagna," and I decided to try it. Andy loves Italian food. Usually I make his mom's recipe, but I love to try new approaches. The first change I made was to half most of the ingredients (four pounds of meat seemed a bit much). According to the original recipe, this dish serves eight, but I beg to differ. Even after halving the ingredients, I was still able to make two 13- x 9-inch pans. In a word—plenty! I gave one pan to a friend and baked the second for Andy, his dad, and I to eat tonight. Then I froze the rest (enough for three more meals). The base for the lasagna is bolognese sauce, a meat sauce that starts with a base of pureed vegetables. Also, bolognese isn't very tomato-y. I found this dish to be not as heavy as traditional lasagna. The secret ingredient is cinnamon—you can't taste it per se, but it adds a nice flavor note. Enjoy!
1 (16-oz.) box lasagna noodles
1 onion, cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves
3 carrots, cut into pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into pieces
Leaves from 1 stem of fresh basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp. half-and-half
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 (15-oz.) containers ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (8-oz.) package finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water until pliable but not cooked through; drain and set aside.
2. Place onions and next 6 ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a knife blade. Pulse to finely chop vegetable mixture.
3. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add ground beef, sausage, and vegetable mixture to pan; add salt and pepper. Sauté until meat is browned and crumbly and vegetables are tender. Stir in flour, red wine, and next 3 ingredients; cook until mixture thickens. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.
4. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, and eggs in a bowl; stir in salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place a small amount of sauce in bottom of two 13- x 9-inch pans. Top with four noodles in each pan; spread some of ricotta mixture over noodles. Top with some of the sauce, and then add four more noodles to each. Add additional ricotta and sauce. Top with a third layer of noodles. Spread with remaining sauce, and top with shredded cheese.
6. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.