Cheesy Meat Lasagna (with organic ingredients)

To promote my non-toxic cookware article I recently published here on my website, I shared a photo on my Instagram of the lasagna I made for our New Year's Eve dinner, but that lasagna stole the show! All everyone asked about was my lasagna. So as requested, here’s the details on my classic cheesy meat lasagna recipe!



This is one of the very few recipes mi madre taught me, and the first recipe I learned after moving out of my parent's house. That may sound strange to some since I'm Dominican and Lasagna is traditionally an Italian dish, but Dominicans loveeeee lasagna! I actually didn't start cooking until my early 20's #WifeLife, but growing up we always had lasagna on special occasions and parties. Coincidentally, I married a man who’s partly Italian, and loves Italian food more than our Spanish cultural dishes. But what makes this recipe special to me is that ever since we began making health/lifestyle changes, I swapped the ingredients from the original recipe for organic ingredients. So for the past 7+ years I’ve been making this lasagna with organic ingredients only, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it taste even better this way! Surprisingly, even my mother agrees! I've served this lasagna to my guest and family so many times and I'm so proud of it. There use to be a huge misconception about organic ingredients so when I first served this lasagna to a group of friends and family I didn't tell them I changed anything or did anything special because I didn't want them to make assumptions before trying it. Some people will assume that organic ingredients means it'll taste less than good or less flavorful. But my guest enjoyed it, and even went for seconds and thirds! That's when I broke the news on how clean and organic the ingredients are. Like I always say, "The truth isn't told, it's learned". Now they know that we can have a equally delicious organic thanksgiving dinner and eat all our childhood favorite foods without sacrificing flavor and health. I hope that you too enjoy my organic lasagna.


Prep time: 20-30 minutes

Bake time: 40 min - 1 hour

Serving: 6-8


INGREDIENTS:

• 1lb Organic (grass-fed) ground beef or ground bison

• Salt + Pepper (to taste)

• 2 tsp Organic Olive Oil

• 5-6 Cloves of garlic (you can use more or less depending on your taste and the size of each clove)

• 1-2 tbsp of Organic Adobo or All-Purpose seasoning

• 1lb (1 box) Organic Lasagna Sheets

• 25-28oz Organic Italian Herb Pasta Sauce

• (2x) 15oz (Whole Milk) Organic Ricotta Cheese

• 1-1/2 4oz Organic grated Parmesan Cheese

• 4x 7oz (grass-fed) Buffalo Mozzarella cheese

• 4-6 Organic Basil leaves (to taste)


OTHER ITEMS YOU NEED:

• Spatula + scooping spoon

• Garlic press or masher

• Knife to slice

• 2 bowls for mixing ingredients

• Baking Dish (mine is 14" L x 9" W x 2.5" H)


RECIPE STEPS:


1. Pre-heat your oven to 375℉ -- set aside your baking pan and take out your non-refrigerated ingredients on your counter work space.


On this day I used the 365 whole foods brand organic Italian herb pasta sauce, and the 365 Lasagna noodles but most often I use other sauce brands like "Organico Bello" and "Lucini Organic" which I usually purchase at my local organic grocer here in ATX. This pasta sauce already has enough chopped onions so that's why I don't add it to my recipe. I rarely do.


2. Start by making the meat sauce. In your frying pan, add a little olive oil and your ground meat. Season your ground meat with salt, pepper, and organic adobo (the adobo is optional but it’s a preference of ours, but you can also use all-purpose seasoning instead) then mix all together as it cooks on medium-low heat.


**You can season your meat separately in a bowl first before placing it on your cooking pan if you prefer it but I season it directly on my cooking pan and mix with my spatula as it cooks. Either way is fine.


3. On medium to low heat chop apart and mix your ground meat with a spatula as it cooks. After about 2-3 mins of cooking, mix and chop around until it’s all cooked evenly. Now add in your pressed or mashed garlic cloves and mix again to continue breaking up your meat. Don't let your meat form together in large chunks like a burger, just keep mashing and mixing to break it it up evenly until the meat is fully cooked.


4. After the meat is fully cooked, add in your pasta sauce to create a meat sauce and stir slowly with your spatula. Reduce your heat to low and let it simmer for 10-15 mins or until you're ready to begin layering your lasagna dish.


5. While your meat is simmering on low heat, begin boiling water for your lasagna sheets. After your water boils, salt your water and add your lasagna sheets one by one (you can oil your water if you like, but I didn't). You want to undercook your lasagna sheets a little so don’t cook it like ready to serve pasta. I cook the lasagna sheets for 8-9 min or so. Not too soft or too hard because it will continue to cook in the oven, and it will soften perfectly.


6. While the water + pasta is boiling and meat is simmering low, add your 2 containers of ricotta cheese in a medium size bowl and 1 container of parmesan cheese. Add some pepper and mix well. Do not add salt here because parmesan cheese is naturally salted and your meat and pasta should have enough salt.

7. Chop some basil leaves and set 2 extra leaves to the side for later. Add in the chopped basil leaves to your ricotta cheese bowl and mix well.



8. Once your lasagna sheets are done, drain some water out and set it aside on your counter. Also remove the meat sauce from the heat and set it on your counter with your ricotta cheese mix by side and your baking dish ready to go.


9. Slice a portion of the buffalo mozzarella cheese balls and set aside. I use buffalo mozzarella in my recipe because its more flavorful and creamier than standard mozzarella which can be very bland. Buffalo mozzarella is a game changer!


10. Now were going to begin layering! First scoop some of the meat sauce or pasta sauce onto your baking dish. This will coat your pan the way butter coats your cake pan so nothing sticks.



11. Layering begins with your cooked lasagna sheets, then smooth some of the ricotta mix on top of the lasagna sheets. Then scoop some of the meat sauce and place it on top of the ricotta layer.


12. Over the meat sauce, I sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and add my sliced buffalo mozzarella.

13. Then create the next layers with the same steps. Lasagna sheet first, then spread some ricotta cheese mix, meat sauce, parmesan and mozzarella again. Then repeat again for the next layer.


14. For the last/top layer spread the last of your meat sauce over the lasagna sheets and tuck in the sides with your spatula so its not flapping over the the baking dish. Then spread all the ricotta cheese mix you have left. Finally add tons of buffalo mozzarella to top off your final layer. I also add 2 basil leaves to garnish the top for visual purposes.

** If you’re like me, your baking dish isn’t deep enough and your lasagna will overflow a little while in the oven so make sure you place your baking dish on top of a large baking sheet first so nothing fall to the bottom of your oven.


Bake at 375 for 40mins or until cheese is bubbly on top

15. When you take it out of the oven, let the lasagna sit for 15-30 mins before cutting and serving. The sooner you cut it the more your lasagna layers will fall apart on the plate but either way, it’ll be delicious! — place any left overs in the fridge and re-heat for 20-30 mins the next day (If you have any left) :)

Alba


If you make this recipe, please tag me @sunkissalba on IG or twitter. I'd love to see your results!