Traditional Italian Lasagna, is there any meal that evokes more comfort food feels??? Not for me there isn’t. It’s just so darn good in every way. I can’t tell you great stories of this recipe being handed down from my Italian great grandmother, as I am Danish, German and Irish, but I can tell you I worked on this recipe until it was my favorite lasagna of all time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
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Traditional Italian Lasagna topped with basil leaves served on a rustic dark wooden table

Traditional Italian Lasagna:

For this traditional lasagna meal I use a combination of ground pork and ground beef sautéed in onions, tomato sauce and red pepper flakes layered between sheets of tender noodles and topped with all the cheesy goodness you can imagine…fresh mozzarella, whole fat ricotta and a generous helping of parmesan! That said there is one ingredient that adds some fabulous flavor but isn’t traditional here in the states…

A tin baking pan filled with Traditional Italian Lasagna on a rustic dark wooden table

Let’s Hear it For the Lemon Zest!

Before adding ricotta to the pan, I fold in fresh lemon zest. It really sets this lasagna apart! Trust me y’all. TRUST. ME. To ‘zest’ a lemon, simple use a microplane to scrape the yellow off the lemon until the white is exposed and then move to a new area. The yellow zest is fragrant and flavorful, the white underneath is bitter, so only grate that first layer.

Buon Appetito!

If this pan of pasta doesn’t make you swoon, I don’t know what will! By the way, I also have a beautiful easy lasagna made on the cooktop in 30 minutes (if you prefer not to turn on that oven in summer, I highly recommend it!)

Close-up of a Traditional iIalian Lasagna in a baking tin set on parchment paper

MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE AND JUST AS GOOD:

If you live without gluten you don’t have to miss out on exceptional pasta! Jovial Foods makes the best gluten free pasta around. I am lucky enough to live by a store that carries it, but if you aren’t as lucky, you can order it here! The best thing about Jovial pasta (besides the taste and texture) is that the grains are soaked for easy digestion. That’s a really great and rare thing for a store bought pasta!

The Recipe: Traditional Italian Lasagna

Tips and what you need: a 9×13 ceramic baking dish, a nice pan,  and a microplane for zesting lemon.

Traditional Italian Lasagna
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

A beautiful traditional Italian Lasagna

Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: gluten free lasagna, lasagna, pasta dinner
Servings: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked to package instructions
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • 10 ounces lean ground beef
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 28 oz can marinara sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/2- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how much of a kick you want)
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 15 ounces full fat ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 3/4" cubes (packed in water) cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center position

  2. Place a large pot of salted water to boil, when boiling add lasagna noodles and cook to package instructions. While waiting for water to boil:

  3. Place a large pan on cooktop on high heat. Add olive oil, when oil is hot add chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently for five minutes turning down heat when necessary

  4. Add pork and beef to pan, cook until cooked through (8-10 minutes) using a spatula to break apart. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

  5. Add pasta sauce, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, turn down to a low simmer

  6. While meat simmers, zest lemon and add zest to the ricotta cheese, stir well

  7. When pasta noodles are al dente, strain in colander, rinse under cold water (we are making four layers so you need 12 noodles. Always cook more than I need because 2=3 usually break)

  8. Place three lasagna noodles in a ceramic baking dish, spread a layer of meat sauce (approx 1 1/4 cup) onto noodles, then add 1/3 of the ricotta in spoonful and 1/ 3 of mozzarella onto meat sauce (It doesn't have to be perfect, estimate the best you can). Add another layer of noodles then pasta sauce (again 1 1/4 cup) then cheese and repeat one more time. Add the fourth layer of noodles, top with remaining meat sauce and then sprinkle with the freshly grated parmesan.

  9. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for five minutes. Garnish with basil if desired and serve.

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