From America's Test Kitchen Season 3: Pasta Quick and Easy
Traditional meaty lasagna is one of the best comfort foods out there. Unfortunately, this hearty dish takes the better part of a day to make (not very comforting, if you ask us). The noodles must be boiled and the sauce slow-cooked. Then, once the cheese filling is mixed, the ingredients must be carefully layered before the whole thing is baked off. We wanted a really good meat lasagna, with all of the rich, hearty meatiness of an all-day lasagna, but ready in a lot less time.
We made a speedy meaty tomato sauce by simmering onion, garlic, and meat loaf mixture (ground beef, pork, and veal) together for about 15 minutes. Adding some heavy cream created a richer, creamier, more cohesive sauce; we stirred in pureed and diced tomatoes for a luxurious, soft sauce with chunks of tomatoes. Using no-boil lasagna noodles eliminated the tedious process of boiling and draining the pasta. For a classic cheese layer, we combined ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and an egg, which helped thicken and bind the mixture; a layer of shredded mozzarella upped the creaminess and cheesiness of the filling. Covering the lasagna with foil before baking helped to soften the noodles; removing it during the last half-hour of baking ensured that the cheeses were properly browned.
Serves 6 to 8
If you can’t find meatloaf mixture for the sauce, or if you choose not to eat veal, substitute 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, for the meatloaf mixture. The assembled, unbaked lasagna, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil, will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. To bake, defrost it in the refrigerator for a day or two and bake as directed, extending the baking time by about 5 minutes.