Saturday, September 29, 2007

World's Best Lasagna

I finally did it! We got our KitchenAid Mixer back in April, and with it came a mail-in rebate for either a pasta roller/fettuccine cutter set, or an ice cream maker attachment. I thought long and hard about which attachment I wanted, but in the end I chose the pasta maker thinking I would use it more often than the ice cream maker. Well, it didn't take very long for KitchenAid to send me the attachment; however, it has been sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be used, for months now. Part of me was scared to use it... making pasta just sounded so complicated. The only thing I am more afraid of is working with yeast! :)

So today I decided to make some homemade lasagna... completely from scratch, including the sauce and the pasta noodles. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and using the pasta roller was really fun! :) Now that I've tackled pasta making, my next goal is to successfully work with yeast and make some yummy cinnamon bread that I've been wanting to try.

The lasagna recipe is from, and while I wouldn't necessarily call it the 'World's Best,' it was still really really good. The blend of spices/herbs was good; next time I will add some fresh basil as well. I think this recipe might be good with some zucchini thrown in too. You can also just make the sauce as a pasta sauce.

A big thank you to Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for the homemade pasta recipe :) Kneading the dough was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Next time I make pasta, I may try the recipe that came with the KitchenAid attachment (which uses the mixer and requires less kneading) and see if there is much of a difference...

World's Best Lasagna

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used 4)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used 4 tsp dried parsley)
12 lasagna noodles (recipe for homemade noodles below)
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tsp), pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley (I used 2 tsp dried). Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt (I also added a pinch of nutmeg).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

To assemble, spread 1-1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1-1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

(This recipe makes enough to use 2 cups of meat sauce for each layer... I found that 1-1/2 cups did not cover the entire baking dish. I layered according to the recipe instructions, with a slight modification. I made mine the following way: meat sauce-noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-meat sauce-parmesan-noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-meat sauce-noodles-meat sauce-parmesan-mozzarella-parmesam)

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Homemade Pasta
from Cream Puffs in Venice

2 cups of all-purpose flour (use unbleached if you can find it), plus more for rolling out the pasta (The amount of flour required will depend on the size of your eggs, humidity, etc. I probably used closer to 2-1/2 to 3 cups of flour.)

4 large eggs

Place the flour on a work surface. Pile the flour into a hill, and then make a valley in the centre, wide enough to hold the 4 eggs.

Carefully put the eggs into the valley you’ve created in the flour.

With a fork, begin beating the eggs (gently) and slowly incorporating the flour.

Once you have incorporated as much flour as you can with the fork, begin working the flour/egg mixture with your hands.

If the mixture feels too wet, add a bit more flour keeping in mind that it’s easier to add flour than it is to deal with dough that has too much flour in it.

Once the mixture comes together in a ball, and no longer sticks to the counter, you are ready to begin kneading.

Flour your work surface and begin kneading by pushing forward on the dough with the heel of your hand. Fold the dough in half and then repeat the pushing forward motion. Fold the dough in half again. Keep repeating this step. Every time you fold the dough in half, turn your dough slightly either to the right or left. Keep pushing forward, folding and turning.

Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it has become smooth and soft. If at any time your dough becomes sticky, sprinkle some more flour on your work surface.

Once you have completed kneading your dough, you are ready to put it through the pasta machine.

Cut the ball of dough into small portions, 6 or 8 equal parts.

Spread towels on a nearby surface so that you can lay the pasta sheets down as you complete them.

Beginning on the lowest setting for the thinning rollers, flatten out your portion of dough slightly, brush on some flour, and put it through the thinners. Fold the dough in half and put it through the thinner again. Repeat this step two or three times until you have a fairly smooth, flattened piece of dough.

Move the setting for the thinning rollers up a notch. Pass the dough through the thinners. Fold the dough and pass it through again. Repeat this step two or three times.

Repeating the basic rolling steps, continue to thin the pasta by working your way up to the thinnest setting. Once this is done, lay the pasta sheet on the cloth. If your pasta sheet gets too long, cut it in half.

Once you have prepared all the pasta sheets, let the pasta dry for about 10 minutes. Lay the pasta on a sheet or tray.

If you’re not going to use the tajarin right away, cover with a cloth and set aside.

For lasagna noodles: With a sharp knife, cut the pasta sheets into pieces approximately 3 x 6.5" (for use in a 13 x 9" baking dish). Alternatively, you can cut 4.5 x 13" pieces and use 2 sheets per lasagna layer.


  1. Looks good. I actually use Ivonne's lasagna recipe....I love it and it is the only way my husband will eat lasagna anymore.

  2. Oh! Wow! Is there any left for me??? That looks incredible and I'm so happy that you like the pasta recipe.

    There's not much better than a homemade lasagna!

  3. The lasagna looks good. I have been wanting to try making my own pasta for a while now. It sounds like fun.

  4. Hi

    I'm really not in the mood for making fresh lasagna noodles, would I be able to adapt this recipe using no boil noodles.

  5. anonymous - yes, you can use store bought pasta - in fact the original recipe is for that (i only include the homemade pasta recipe for those who wish to go that route).

  6. Hi Jaime, I was just wondering if making the meat sauce a day before would be plausible? Just to save on time. Thanks!

  7. anonymous - yes you can make the sauce ahead of time! I often make a double batch and save some in the freezer for pasta and other dishes :) love this sauce recipe!