Lasagna with Lean Ground Beef

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1 lb lean ground beef
medium sweet white onion, diced
large green bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, diced
lb dry lasagna noodles (requires 9 lasagna noodles - unbroken)
1/4 cup sugar
1-28 oz can tomato sauce
28 oz can (16 oz) stewed tomatoes
6 oz can (3 oz) tomato paste
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 lb mozzarella cheese (large flat square slices)
3/4 lb freshly grated parmesan cheese
garlic powder
Italian spice
garlic salt
parsley, diced (fresh flat leaf preferred)
1 garlic cloves, minced
white wine vinegar


Cooking Utensils:

large skillet (for browning beef, onions, green pepper)
6-qt pot (for noodles)
3-qt pot (to simmer sauce)
13" x 9" x 2" lasagna pan (preferably a stainless lasagna pan;. do not use aluminum pans - the aluminum will react with the acidic tomato sauce, leaching the aluminum and ruining the taste of the lasagna sauce)
large colander (to drain/blot beef, drain noodles)
large baking pan (to wash and cool noodles)
large slotted cooking spoon
large cooking spoon
paring knife

1. Brown lean ground beef in skillet until lightly browned and cooked through. Put a few layers of paper towels in large bowl. With slotted spoon, remove browned beef from skillet draining off excess beef fat and put on top of blotting towels. After all the browned beef has been removed from the skillet, drain off and dispose of excess beef fat. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel. (If your ground beef is sufficiently lean, there won't be any excess fat to drain.) Add diced green pepper and onion to skillet. Brown for a few minutes on medium high heat, add browned beef back to the skillet, lower the heat to low and continue to cook for 5 more minutes stirring frequently.

2. Transfer browned beef, green pepper and onions to 3-qt pot. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste. Open stewed tomatoes and dice, then add to 3-qt. pot. Add oregano, parsley, Italian spice. Mix to taste, probably 2 teaspoons of each. Add garlic and a pinch of garlic salt, to taste. Add a dash of white wine vinegar. Add sugar a couple tablespoons at a time, until desired level of sweetness, no more than 1/4 cup of sugar. Note that it is hard to follow a pure recipe when it comes to pasta sauce. One Italian spice mix is not like the other, nor is one can of tomato sauce not like the other. So you really do need to taste the sauce as you are adding the spices, sugar and vinegar.

Stir and allow sauce to simmer 15-45 minutes to thicken (do not scorch bottom, stir frequently). Remove from heat.

3. Cook 1 lb lasagna noodles in 6-qt. pot per cooking directions (al dente). (Note: noodles may be cooked in advance.) Stir often to prevent from sticking and be sure that water remains at a low boil during the entire cooking to prevent noodles from sticking. You may add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to help prevent sticking, as well as 1/2 teaspoon of salt so the noodles are more flavorful. Drain in colander and place in cool water filled pan to keep from drying out and sticking together.

4. In dry lasagna pan, ladle one cup of sauce and spread along the bottom of the pan. Apply a layer noodles 3 length wise (edges overlapping). Ladle in sauce sparingly into center trough of 3 noodles. Apply a layer of mozzarella cheese slices on top of lasagna sauce. Place ricotta cheese dollops (about 1 tablespoon) every 2 inches in center of noodles on top of mozzarella cheese slices, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese in thin even layer on top of ricotta cheese. Apply second layer of noodles, repeat three time topping with noodles. If you have extra sauce and cheese you can spread that over the top. Tent lasagna pan with aluminum foil (not touching noodles or sauce). Bake at 375F for 45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Flavor improves for second service. Lasagna may be reheated in convention or microwave. Leave aluminum tent on for storage, however do not allow aluminum to touch the sauce.

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