California Central Coast Recipes
Classic Italian-American Meatball Lasagna
Classic Italian-American Meatball Lasagna is a recipe that you'll love to serve year-round. This style lasagna is very different from its Italian cousin --this version is the Italian-American traditional Mama-style Italian favorite of anyone that loves Italian food. It is a perfect "turn-to" recipe for feeding large numbers of guests at reunions, get-togethers and even picnics! One of the best things about this recipe, it's easy to do in stages ahead of time, and can even be assembled a day in advance and then at the last minute baked. Making it during the hot summer just takes a little planning ahead to get the assembly done the night before. Then just relax and bake when needed.
This recipe incorporates my recipe for homemade meatballs- Italian-American Meatballs-Romantic Table Style
, which I make ahead of time. It also uses my recipe for Basic Marinara Sauce
which can be made in advance as well. Caution! Do NOT use the "oven-ready" style lasagna noodles! The "oven-ready style" lasagna noodles do NOT have the right taste or texture for a quality lasagna! And the oven-ready type do NOT reheat well! They turn gummy! Ugh!
The lasagna is assembled in a large rectangular baking dish by layering cooked lasagna noodles, marinara, fresh ricotta cheese, a little egg, meatballs which have been lightly crushed, mozzarella and of course Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses. Served with a nice salad, some of my The Ultimate Garlic Bread
and a nice Sangiovese or Chianti wine. This is a meal that ALL will enjoy! And because you make it in stages beforehand, you're not exhausted by the process and you'll be able to enjoy your get-together as much as your guests!
Preparation time: 40 minutesCooking time: 35 minutes
8 cups Basic Marinara Sauce
12 to 15 Italian-American Meatballs-Romantic Table Style
12 Lasagna noodles , cooked as directed on the package, then rinsed in cold water
1 pound Ricotta cheese
2 Large Eggs , slightly beaten
1 cup Italian parsley chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese , grated
1 lb ounces Mozzarella
1 In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the lasagna noodles according to directions. You will want the noodles slightly more al-dante than usual. When the pasta is done, drain and place the cooked noodles in cold water until ready to use. This will prevent them from sticking together. As you use the noodles, remove them from the water and pat them dry.
2 While the pasta is cooking, mix the ricotta, chopped parsley, beaten egg and 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese. Roughly crush the meatballs into small pieces. If you are going to bake the lasagna right away, you can begin to heat up the marinara sauce a bit and preheat your oven to 350F.
3 In a 9x13 baking pan, start the first layer with a half cup or so of marinara sauce. Next place a layer of pasta, slightly overlapping, completely covering the sauce. Depending upon the size of the noodles, it will take approximately 3. Next place 1/2 of the crushed meatball on top. Dot the layer with dollops of 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Cover with 1/3 of the sauce and sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella on top. Next, place a second layer of pasta, the remaining meatballs and ricotta, 1/3 of the sauce and sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella on top.
4 Finish with a third layer layer of pasta and the remaining sauce on top of that. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top. Stop at this point if you are not ready to cook and refrigerate until ready to bake.
5 Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is melted and bubbling. Remove from oven and wait 15 minutes to cool and set before serving.
Pair this recipe with a robust Sangiovese, Aglianico or Primitivo.