Cooking for a Crowd with Mom: Extra Cheesy Lasagna

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One of my favorite parts about being home is being able to cook with Mom. This past weekend, we had some family over. Now, you have to realize that “some family”, in my household, means close to 30 people. What better dish to feed a crowd (and still be able to entertain) than lasagna?? We made a HUGE tray (like, bigger than I thought existed), and we were able to fill everyone’s bellies! Woo! Here is how we made it (I’ve scaled down the quantities for a normal-sized lasagna, but know that we used about 10 lbs of ground beef in ours 😱)

Ingredients:
2.5 lbs good quality ground beef (obviously if you can’t make it to the butcher, no stress, but the ground top round we used really did make a huge difference in flavor and texture)
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp each Dried oregano, dried basil
Salt, pepper (to taste)
Olive oil
2 jars Rao’s marinara sauce (we used prosciutto and arrabiata sauces- use your favorite variety, but this brand of red sauce will change your life… In terms of pasta at least)- 1 of these goes into the meat sauce, and I use the other to add sauce to the lasagna itself since I used the oven-ready pasta sheets and they need extra moisture in the oven to cook.
Oven-ready Pasta sheets- these are awesome and super time-saving!
Approx 2 cups Bechamel Sauce (see: Cream Sauce in “A Little Land and Sea- …lobster ravioli”… And don’t add the garlic or corn)
Ricotta cheese (1 pint)
Mozzarella cheese (I like using sliced rounds, but shredded works too)
Parmesan cheese (shredded)

Putting it Together:
In a large pot, heat up about 2 tbsp Olive Oil and toss in the onions. Once they get slightly translucent, add in the garlic, oregano, and basil. As the garlic begins to get a little color, add in the ground beef, salt, and pepper (a little less than a teaspoon of each per pound of meat).
Brown your ground beef, and then add in the Rao’s Marinara (or, again, your favorite variety of their tomato sauces). Let this simmer away for about 15-20 minutes. Make your bechamel sauce while your meat sauce comes together (butter, flour, whole milk, nutmeg, salt, pepper- directions under “A Little Land n Sea” under “cream sauce”)
Time to assemble your lasagna!
In the bottom of the pan, pour about 1/4 of the jar of marinara and spread to cover- this will create a moist base for the pasta to cook.
Lay down your sheets of pasta.
Layer: meat sauce first, then bechamel sauce drizzled over it, then mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, and then a drizzle of some red sauce. Repeat for another 2 layers, and then top off with pasta sheets. Atop this last layer, drizzle some of the jarred tomato sauce and some bechamel sauce to coat so that the top layer has some moisture, too. Finish with some mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses to coat the top.
Pop this in the oven according to the directions on the pasta box- ours said 375 for 30 minutes.

Dinner is served!

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