Kathy is one of my best friends. I’ve known her forever and don’t even want to think about how long we’ve known each other (it will age us both!). Although we’ve never worked for the same company, we’ve worked in the same industry a really, really, really long time (insurance)!
Anyway, I asked her if she would be a guest chef in my Teach Me to Cook series and she said yes! And, because she’s of Italian descent, she offered to make her lasagna. And, I’m so glad she did because, not only is Kathy’s 16-Layer Lasagna delicious, but she taught me several new tricks that I didn’t know about making lasagna!
Plus, we had a great time chatting as she cooked. As you can see from the cover photo above, the natural light was waning. So, even though we started cooking this lasagna around 1:30 in the afternoon, we didn’t finish it until about 3:30 and the sun was starting to set behind our mountains. Don’t worry; it doesn’t take 2 hours to make Kathy’s 16-Layer Lasagna. It’s just that when you are photographing a recipe for a blog post, it slows everything down!
Later that evening, two other friends joined us for dinner (Debra and Mickey) and the 5 of us (Charlie, too), chowed down on Kathy’s 16-Layer Lasagna, a tossed salad and garlic bread. We finished the evening eating my delicious White Chocolate Bread Pudding ! Yum!
Man, oh man, were we all ready for a nap after that feast!
Anyway, here’s what you do to make Kathy’s 16-Layer Lasagna:
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. I used my stock pot that has a pasta insert. Add about a tablespoon of salt or more (Kathy’s first tip: pasta water should taste like the sea! – I love that analogy!).
This is Kathy’s second tip: use an oblong pot. I didn’t know what she was talking about, at first. Because I’ve always cooked pasta in this pot! But, her point is that if you cook the lasagna noodles in an oblong pot, you can put them into the pot straight and not curved as these noodles are. This prevents the noodles from sticking together. I love this tip, too!
Kathy adding lasagna noodles to my pasta pot (and secretly wishing she’d brought the pot she cooks them in!).
While lasagna noodles are cooking, unwrap your ground meats.
This is ground beef and Italian sausage. If you can’t get Italian sausage without casings, remove the casings from Italian sausage and discard.
Place in frying pan and heat over medium heat.
- Kathy sautéing ground meats.
- Break ground meats up with a spoon as the meat browns.
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. Kathy used prepared minced garlic.
- Adding the prepared minced garlic to the meat.
- Continue to sauté the ground meats, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink.
- Remove from stove top and drain in a metal colander to remove excess fat.
Boil noodles, sideways in pot, 8 to 10 minutes.
Once noodles are cooked al dente’, drain from water. If you have a pasta insert, this part is easy. If you don’t have a pasta insert, drain lasagna noodles into a colander that you’ve placed in the sink to drain.
This is Kathy’s third tip: once drained, drape the lasagna noodles over the pot to prevent sticking! She used her fingers, but if they are too hot to touch, use tongs.
Lasagna noodles draped over the side of the pot! I love this!
Now it’s time to assemble the lasagna (sorry; I forgot to number these photos!) – from top left, clockwise:
- Kathy uses a prepared marinara sauce, specifically a 67-ounce jar of Prego. Pour enough sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to cover.
- You can jiggle the pan in the air, like Kathy!
- Or, if that doesn’t work, use the back of a spoon to smooth it around.
- Next, add a layer of lasagna noodles.
- This is a large 10″ x 15″ baking pan. So, four noodles were needed to cover the bottom. But, if you use a 9″ x 13″ pan, you will probably only need 3 noodles.
- Next, add all the cooked ground meat. Kathy does this because she likes the texture, mouth feel and taste of having the different layers have different ingredients. Genius!
- Cooked ground meats in the lasagna pan.
- Then, sprinkle with about a 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese.
- Next, add more sauce.
- Spread the sauce all over the meat with the back of a spoon.
- Kathy taking a picture break and smiling for the camera!
- Sprinkle with a couple more tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
- Now it’s time for more noodles. Kathy pointed out (another tip) that if you have broken noodles, this is where you should use them – in the middle layer of your lasagna.
- Another layer of noodles.
- More sauce.
- Sauce spread around.
- Kathy making ricotta patties. Yep; I said ricotta patties! Another genius idea! Ricotta can be hard to smooth over sauce and noodles, so she puts a bunch in her hand and pats them into patties!
- Laying a ricotta patty on top of the sauce.
- Making more ricotta patties.
- Using a spoon to smooth the ricotta patties. By the way (BTW), she suggests that you use part-skim ricotta cheese in lasagna. If you use whole-milk ricotta cheese, it will make the lasagna runny (another tip – what number is that? I’ve lost count!).
Then, she sprinkles another few tablespoons of parmesan cheese over the ricotta.
- Add mozzarella cheese.
- Add more sauce.
- Spread sauce around with the back of a spoon.
- Sauce over the cheese.
- Add another layer of noodles.
- Kathy carefully adding more noodles.
From top right, clockwise (sorry; I forgot to number these pictures!):
- A layer of noodles.
- Add more sauce.
- Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
- Add the rest of the mozzarella cheese.
- Finished 16-layer lasagna – ready for the oven!
- Baked 16-layer lasagna – resting before serving!
Doesn’t it look delicious?
It tastes delicious, too!
Here’s the recipe:
- 12-15 lasagna noodles (depending on the size of pan)
- 1 pound ground beef (85-15 mixture)
- ½ pound Italian bulk sausage or 3 Italian sausages with casings removed
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (2 to 3 garlic cloves)
- ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, (divided)
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella (divided)
- 15 ounces part-skim Ricotta cheese (NOT full-fat ricotta*)
- 67 ounces jar of favorite spaghetti sauce (she uses Prego)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In large pot of boiling salted water (the water should taste like the sea), lay lasagna noodles sideways to prevent sticking.
- Boil about 8 to 10 minutes until slightly al dente.
- Drain immediately and carefully hang noodles over side of pot (they are hot!); this is to prevent sticking.
- Add meat to skillet and sauté on medium-high heat, breaking meat up with spoon or spatula as it cooks.
- Add garlic when meat is halfway browned.
- Continue sautéing until brown.
- Remove from heat and drain off fat using a colander.
- Now start layering in this order: 1 cup sauce, 3 or 4 noodles lengthwise (depending on size of your pan), all the meat, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 cup sauce, 1 cup mozzarella, noodles, sauce, ricotta, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, 1 cup mozzarella, sauce, noodles, sauce, the remaining Parmesan, the remaining mozzarella.
- Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes until the sides are bubbly.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving to allow lasagna to settle.
- Reheat extra sauce in microwave and serve on the side (in a gravy boat) for everyone's preference.
Thanks, Kathy, for spending the day with me and teaching me to cook your delicious 16-layer lasagna! What are you going to teach me to cook next?
This recipe is featured on All Free Casserole Recipes’ site! Check it out: Kathy’s 16-Layer Lasagna.
(other recipes in the Teach Me to Cook series)