July 29 is National Lasagna Day.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Italian sausage such as Graziano Brothers
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 Cup onion, minced
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 small (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 small (6.5 oz) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 Cup water
2 Tbsp white sugar
1-1/2 tsp dried Basil leaves
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

4 Tbsp coarsely-chopped fresh parsley

12 lasagna noodles
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

STEPS
In a heavy Dutch oven, over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic until meat is well browned. Add the canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water, stirring to combine. Season meat sauce mixture with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon of the salt, black pepper, and half (2 tablespoons) of the freshly-chopped parsley. Bring sauce to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer. Allow meat sauce to cook, covered, on low heat for at least 1-1/2 hours, checking and stirring occasionally.

Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt before adding the lasagna noodles. Cook noodles in the boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove lasagna to a colander to drain, then rinse noodles with cold water.

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with egg, remaining 2 Tbsp parsley, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) while you assemble the lasagna: Spread 1-1/2 Cups of meat sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange half of the noodles lengthwise over the layer of meat sauce. Top the noodle layer with one half of the ricotta-egg mixture, and top the ricotta layer with one third of the sliced mozzarella cheese. Spoon another 1-1/2 Cups of the meat sauce over the mozzarella, then sprinkle with 1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese.

Repeat layers: meat sauce
noodles
ricotta
mozzarella
meat sauce
Parmesan

and finish up by topping with the last of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Cover baking dish with foil that has been lightly oiled with nonstick spray (this keeps the foil from sticking to the cheesy goodness).

Bake lasagna with the foil cover on top for 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil to allow cheese to become golden brown, and bake an additional 25 minutes.

Remove lasagna from oven and allow to cool (pref on a cooling rack) for at least 15 minutes (up to 25 min) before serving. Serve with garlic bread and a big salad.

Makes 12 servings

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