The trick to cooking your noodles in the pan is to water down your marinara sauce. The noodles absorb the sauce as they cook and the sauce will thicken. This recipe makes calls for a very large roasting pan and will easily serve at least 12 people. Make sure your pan is about 5 inches high for all the layers. You can make ahead of time when you’re going to have a large gathering, then pop in the oven.
Easy Lasagna (No Pre-Cooking the noodles)
Preheat Oven to 300 degrees
¼ cup olive oil
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 lbs of ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 lb ground Italian sausage
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
3 quarts marinara -Click here for a great Vodka Marinara recipe
3 cups Ricotta
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 lb lasagna noodles, uncooked
In a large pan, sauté the bell pepper and onion until soft. -Salt and Pepper. Add the garlic, ground meat and sausage, then the crushed red pepper, basil, oregano and salt and pepper and cook until the meat is thoroughly cooked. (I choose to drain off the fat in a colander at this point) Return the meat mixture back to the pan.
Now add your marinara (spaghetti sauce) to the meat mixture, but leave 2 cups out for the last layer over the noodles. Thin the sauce with about ¾-1 cup water and simmer for about 30 minutes. To keep it simple there are a lot of great tasting sauces at the grocery store. I grow tomatoes so I always have jars on hand of the homemade stuff.
Now it’s time to layer the lasagna. Start with putting a little of the thinned out sauce at the bottom, then layer with your uncooked lasagna noodles next. Leave some space in-between because the noodles will expand as they cook. Next comes half the meat and sauce mixture. Spread evenly over the noodles. Now add your Ricotta in dollops onto the meat mixture, then half the mozzarella evenly. Now it’s time for your second layer of noodles, then rest of meat sauce, ricotta and mozzarella. Add the third layer of noodles. Add the remaining 2 cups of marinara, thinned with some water, to the top of the noodles. Cover with foil and seal it tightly. The steam from the sauce will cook the noodles.
Cook for 2 hours in a 300 degree oven. I actually cooked it for 90 minutes then turn it to "keep warm" Until we were ready to sit down for dinner.