Holiday Pasta Recipes
Whether you are celebrating the Christmas holiday with a traditional ham or turkey, or celebrating the holiday in the Italian tradition of making a macaroni or pasta recipe, a good lasagna is a sure crowd-pleaser. Lasagna can be served as the main course or accompanying another course of ham, turkey or other types of meat.
This lasagna recipe is an outstanding holiday pasta recipe if you use a smooth and tasty marinara sauce and not a chunky sauce. The smooth sauce is perfect for lasagna. This is not the type of pasta where you want to taste the tomatoes—you want to taste the lasagna as a whole. A chunky sauce will ruin that overall taste.
Use your best marinara sauce without an overwhelming garlic taste for this recipe. Your guests will compliment the chef.
Give yourself plenty of time to make this recipe—anywhere from 1½ hrs. to 2 hrs, and even more if you are making the sauce along with the lasagna. This is not a simple recipe because of all the steps involved, but it is broken down for you here and includes tips for getting your lasagna to taste terrific. Sooner or later you won’t even need the recipe to make delicious lasagna. While there are many lasagna recipes, this one is a crowd favorite.
HOLIDAY PASTA RECIPES: LASAGNA
Prepared marinara sauce with hint of garlic
1½ lbs. chopped meat
1 box lasagna
1-16 oz. whole milk mozzarella
1 small container whole milk ricotta cheese
1. Prepare your best, smooth marinara sauce without heavy use of garlic. Use large soup or lobster pot. You may want to double your recipe for the marinara sauce because lasagna uses a lot of sauce for each layer (there will be three layers). You must double the sauce if you are using a very large lasagna pan.
2. Meantime, brown chopped meat in frying pan. Do not use oil. When thoroughly browned, transfer meat to marinara sauce pot with a slotted spoon so grease stays in the frying pan. Taste and adjust seasonings (you may need extra salt or even a little sugar).
3. In another large pot, add water 2/3 to the top of the pot. Add a few sprinkles of salt. Boil water for pasta.
4. For a medium-sized oven dish, use 15-16 pieces of lasagna. For a large oven dish, use 20-21 pieces of lasagna. Follow package directions and place lasagna into boiling water, one piece at a time. As you place the pieces in, try to scatter the direction of the lasagna pieces so they are not clumped together in the pot. As soon as each piece is a little soft, push the piece into the pot gently with a fork so it cooks thoroughly. Set clock timer for lasagna. Drain in colander when done. Rinse thoroughly with cool water so you can handle lasagna.
5. With soup ladle, spoon a thin coating of marinara sauce onto bottom of pan. (This is to prevent lasagna from sticking to pan). Place a piece of lasagna lengthwise in the pan. Add three more for a medium-sized pan; add four more for a large-sized pan. Make sure lasagna pieces are slightly overlapping each other for best results. If the lasagna doesn’t reach the bottom of the pan, use the extra pieces to cover the width of the pan so that the entire bottom is filled.
6. Add a layer of sauce (also known as gravy) onto the pieces of lasagna.
7. Cut entire chunk of mozzarella into thin slices. Spread half of the slices out evenly on this bottom layer of lasagna.
8. Add ricotta cheese by dipping a regular household teaspoon into ricotta container, placing only 1/4-1/3 of the cheese onto the spoon. Place ricotta cheese evenly around the lasagna pan but in small amounts unless you like a lot of ricotta cheese. If you add a lot, it will overpower the marinara sauce. Best practice is to spread ricotta in about 8 different places on the bottom layer.
9. Repeat step 5 and add another layer of lasagna; if there is extra space at the bottom, again use the extra pieces to fill that space.
10. Repeat steps 6, 7 and 8—add sauce, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, using up all of the mozzarella.
11. Repeat step 5, adding the top layer of lasagna. Do not use mozzarella or ricotta cheese on the top layer. Spoon sauce to cover the entire top layer. (Try to use most of the meat for the bottom two layers, leaving mostly sauce for the top layer).
12. Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the top layer of lasagna.
13. Cover pan with aluminum foil (extra sheets may be needed). Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes. Set clock timer.
14. Remove aluminum foil. Bake an extra 5-8 minutes. Take out of oven and let it cool a bit so lasagna will start sticking together. *
*Note: Cut lasagna with a knife and dish out with a wide spatula. Do not be concerned if lasagna does not stick together but is spread out on the plate. The results will be the same—delicious. Lasagna that sits and cools a little bit is more likely to stick together (this is especially true as a leftover) but it is likely the first piece cut may not stick together. You will get better with practice. Regardless, the taste will be the same and don’t feel as if you’ve done anything wrong—you haven’t.
Hint: You can add some parmesan cheese to the marinara sauce as it is cooking to enhance the flavor of the sauce.
Lasagna can be made as a holiday pasta recipe or throughout the year for family and for company.
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