Crazy-Good Lasagna

Everybody has their claim to the "best lasagna ever," so I won't try to convince you that mine is the best, but I can tell you with all sincerity that it is reeeally good.  It is also really crazy, because of all of its ingredients, which is why I titled it "crazy-good."

It takes a little effort, so I recommend making a double or triple batch to make it worth your while.  I like to eat one the evening-of, and then freeze the other/s for a quick, but amazing, homemade meal.

I feel like I'm doing my future self a hugemongous favor when I leave my future self a nice homemade meal in the freezer.  It's easy, it's special; it's such a nice thing for me to do for my future self.

Ahem.

This recipe is also "crazy" because I don't really have measurements.  I just make a whole bunch of everything and then layer it until I run out.  However, for the sake of replication, I made some notes so I could give you some approximate measurements.  You really can't go wrong.  If the amount doesn't look good to you, just change it according to your tastes.

Here's what you'll need.  I tried to get all fancy and take a photo of the ingredients, but some aren't pictured here b/c I have a life and wanted to get on with things.
(for two huge lasagnas; fills three medium foil/freezer pans):

The Ingredients List
2 boxes Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles

Olive Oil (about a 1/3 cup)
2 Lg. Onions chopped
4 Peppers of choice (I used poblano and red and yellow bell peppers)
2 lbs ground Italian Sausage
Whole Fennel Seeds (optional)
1T Dried Parsley
5 Cloves Garlic
3-4 lbs Spaghetti/Tomato Sauce

2 cups of Homemade Pesto (store-bought is also fine)
1 lg bag of Spinach (frozen or fresh)
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
up to 1/2 head of Fresh Garlic

3 Eggs
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
3 lbs Ricotta Cheese (that's 1.5 lg containers)

6 cups Shredded Mozzarella

2 Sliced Zucchinis or Squash (optional)

5 Sm. Eggplants sliced
3 more Eggs beaten
About 2 c Flour
About 2 c Panko Bread Crumbs
Peanut Oil (or any good frying oil) for frying

Salt to taste

How To Make Crazy-Good Lasagna

Step 1: Slice up your eggplant and sprinkle generously with salt (to remove moisture, which prevents bitterness; google "frying eggplant" for extra tips) and let it drain in a colander in the sink covered with a paper towel while you prep your other stuff.

Step 2: Start a big pot of salted water boiling for your noodles (that is, if you choose noodles that require pre-cooking, which is usually the case if you go whole wheat, which I highly recommend)

Step 3: Now cover the bottom of a separate pot with a thin, even layer of olive oil, and when it's hot, add chopped onions and peppers.  Here's where I just put whatever peppers I have on hand.  Poblanos, I've found, add a really nice flavor!  

Add a pinch of whole fennel seeds to fry in there with the peppers if you like that flavor (I sure do!)

Step 4: When your onions are becoming translucent, add in the italian sausage and let it brown completely.

(Note: some people feel like it's better to brown the meat first and then add peppers - if you feel that way, go for it.  Also, it would be equally delicious to do a 1 to 1 ratio of ground beef to italian sausage if you prefer).

Step 5: Add parsley flakes, about 5 cloves of minced garlic, and a whole lotta spaghetti sauce. (I swirl a little water around in the jar to get every last bit out & so the sauce is a little thinner). Then let it all simmer together for about 10 minutes and turn off the heat.

Step 6: If your water is boiling now, go ahead and cook your pasta according to the package instructions.  Get your colander ready in the sink and set a timer!

Now let's make this delicious green stuff!

Step 7: In a blender, put in fresh pesto, a big bag of spinach, whipping cream, and a few cloves of garlic and blend it to a puree.  The cream will probably actually whip inside the mixture a little, making it fluffy.

((Has your timer gone off yet for the pasta??))

Step 8: Add that creamy pesto-spinach mixture to a bowl full of ricotta cheese, eggs, and parmesan cheese, then stir it all together.  Cover and set aside.  


The following step is optional, but will send your incredible lasagna over the top and have people begging for more.  It's time to get your drained eggplant and batter it up for frying.  This is like a hybrid between Eggplant Parmesan and Lasagna - and it's uh-mAh-zing.


Step 9: You can google tips for frying eggplant, but my favorite method is to dip each slice in flour, then egg, then Panko or bread crumbs (I use a mix of both).  It always gives me great results. (See above: dip 1, 2, then 3)

Step 10: Place enough frying oil in a cast iron skillet (or frying pan) so that the eggplant slices won't touch the bottom, and get your oil hot enough so that it sizzles.  Place your battered eggplant slices in a single layer in the pan, turning with tongs when they turn golden-brown. 

Let the slices drain on a paper-towel-covered plate.

((Pre-heat oven to 375))

Step 11: Now we're ready to layer our lasagna.  I generally layer as follows:
Now if you're laughing at me for saying earlier that "I have a life," well, uh...really I do.  

This isn't a science, but this scientific lasagna diagram may help y'all who are type A and need instructions.  I think the most important part is to evenly distribute ingredients and be sure that the noodles have wet stuff around them so they don't dry out.

I really just throw stuff in as I see fit, making sure my top layer is fried eggplant covered in mozzarella cheese.  It's so easy, in fact, I enlisted the help of a really cute 18-month old to layer our lasagna.


For more tips on how to layer your lasagna, Ian was willing to demonstrate in the following video...


Step 12: Cover the lasagna with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for about an hour.  Then take the foil off and broil on high for about 5 minutes (rotating the pan once during the broiling phase, and watching very carefully).  Be careful!  It can burn fast under the broiler, so please please watch it the whole time!

The broiling step will make the cheese on top have that brown bubbly look that is so appealing.

 This is the photo I texted to my husband to get him psyched about getting home for dinner. 

ENJOY!  And please leave a comment if you ever attempt the crazy-good lasagna.  

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