Make the Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs! as mentioned above. A minor detail, ha! You have to make meat with the sauce. It makes the sauce taste better. I also recommend making the meat sauce when making the lasagna.
Now you are going to make the lasagna filling. Get a large bowl and put the following items into the bowl; 1 lb. Ricotta Cheese, (1) Egg, 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese, 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (finely chopped), a dash of black pepper and 1 tsp. Basil (grind the basil up in the palm of your hand and then put it in the mix). Now mix this up well with a fork then set lasagna filling aside to use later.
Now you want to make your Mozzarella strips. The Mozzarella cheese usually comes in a block form. First make 1/4" slices, then cut up the slices into 1/4" strips. (See photos) The Mozzarella comes in an 8 oz. package, of which you will slice up 6 oz. The other 2 oz. you can eat while you're making the rest of the lasagna ;-) It will go well with the wine. Set the cheese strips aside to use later.
Get a large sauce pan full of water. Pour in a dash of salt. Bring water to a boil. (Some people put olive oil in the water to stop the noodles from sticking. I used to do this myself, but it's not necessary, you just have to make sure you gentle stir the noodles from time to time. What I have found out is oil in the water means oil on the pasta and oil on the pasta makes it hard for the sauce to stick to the pasta. This goes for any pasta you are making. No oil in the water.)
When the water comes to a boil, go ahead and place the large lasagna noodles into the boiling water. Put them in long-wise on their edge. They should start to get a little soft in about 1 minute, try to position all the noodles so they make a small arc inside the pan. See photos. Now it's very important to treat these noodles very gently, you need them to remain in whole pieces, no ripping the noodles while stirring! Stir Gently! Cook the noodles for 12 minutes.
When the noodles are finished you need to drain out the water. Don't use a strainer, just get a plate and stick it in the pan at a slant holding the pasta in the pan while you pour out the water. You want to leave about 1" of water on the bottom of the pan to help make it easier to pull these noodles out of the pan. Then you will start taking out noodles one by one and carefully placing them in the baking pan as described below. Use two large wooden forks to take you the noodles, you will have to use a combination of the forks and your hands if the noodles start to be stubborn and stick together. You might even burn your fingers in the process, but hey! good Italian food is worth the sacrifice!
At this point you will need to preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Get your 13"x9 baking pan ready to go, clean up the kitchen and make some room for the lasagna!!! Pour a small glass of nice read wine and play some good Italian music. Now what you will want to do is, with a large spoon (or ladle), pour in a couple scoops of Anthony's Pasta Sauce and spread it around the bottom of the pan. All you need is a very thin layer, spread well so it evenly spreads throughout the bottom of the pan and make sure you push some of the sauce up along the sides of the pan and 1/4". Note: Have you been stirring the sauce? Better stir it now if you have forgotten!
If you put too much sauce between the layers you are going to end up with Lasagna soup, so be careful not to over do it with the sauce. Although, the Lasagna soupy mess which I have produced a couple times by putting too much sauce between the layers of pasta was still quite delicious, just not the best presentation ;-)
Now you will add you first layer of pasta. This is important, you will have a total of (5) layers, you have to keep track of this while your building the lasagna masterpiece, you might want to have someone there with you to count for you, sometimes I need my wife for this, "OK, layer three.", "No dear, that's layer four...", "Are you sure?", "Yes, dear..." and so on.
The first layer of pasta will have three lasagna noodles side by side on the bottom of the pan placed right on top of the sauce you just laid down. Don't overlap the noodles, keep the side by side snug as a bug in a rug. Now you will add you first layer of lasagna filling.
From the bowl of lasagna filling you made earlier, spoon out filling and start adding tsp. full drops onto the lasagna noodles every 2" or so. Then spread out the filling so it's evenly spread out across the noodles. At first use the filling sparingly, you have to portion this part our carefully because you will have to have enough filling for each layer. (Remember, there will be (5) layers of noodles, first layer is on the bottom while the fifth layer is on top which does not get any filling laid on top of it, so you will have (4) layers of filling, capish?)
Now you will take the Mozzarella cheese strips you made earlier and lay them across the noodles. Lay the noodles perpendicular to the length of the noodles spanning across one noodle to the other. This acts as kind of a glue to hold the noodles together. Place the strips about 2" apart and stagger them a bit. (See photos).
Then pour some more sauce over this layer on top of the lasagna filling and cheese strips. All you need is a thin layer of sauce. Spread the sauce out well trying to fill in all the spaces. (See photos). Then sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese. Remember, you used 1/2" cup of Parmesan cheese in the lasagna mix and you should have now another 1/2" cup of Parmesan cheese available for sprinkling in between the layers of pasta. So, now you should have (1) layer built, which is;
a.) lasagna Noodles
b.) lasagna Filling
c.) Mozzarella Cheese strips
d.) Anthony's Pasta Sauce
e.) Parmesan cheese.
You will repeat this (4) times with a fifth layer of pasta on top. No filling on the top layer of pasta. When you get to the top layer of pasta, on top of that you will add a thin layer of sauce making sure you fill all the gaps and get some of the sauce up on the side of the pan. Then you will sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese. This is all that will go on top of the fifth layer of pasta.
Here is a little visual for you:
::::::::::::::::::::: <--Sauce on top.
----------(5)-------- <--lasagna Noodles.
~~~(4)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <--Stuff in the middle.
----------(4)-------- <--lasagna Noodles.
~~~(3)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <--Stuff in the middle.
----------(3)-------- <--lasagna Noodles.
~~~(2)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <--Stuff in the middle.
----------(2)-------- <--lasagna Noodles.
~~~(1)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <--Stuff in the middle.
----------(1)-------- <--lasagna Noodles.
..................... <--Sauce on bottom of pan.
At this point you should have your lasagna five layers high and all ready to go. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, squeeze it tight on all sides of the pan. Place in the center of your preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes.
Make sure there is a fresh pot of sauce cooking on the stove the whole time you are doing this. You'll have to time it all out the best you can. You may have to make this recipe a few times to work out the timing. The best thing to do is to make Anthony's Spaghetti Sauce, Meatballs and Braciole Recipe! the day before you are going to make the lasagna. Then when you start making the lasagna you can start heating up the sauce. (Don't forget to stir the sauce while you're making the lasagna! Also, don't heat the sauce at too high of a temperature, Low-Med. should be fine, you want very little bubbling. Remember you already cooked the sauce, you just want to reheat it, but you do want the sauce very hot when you pour it over the lasagna.)
After the lasagna has cooked for 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered. Then take the lasagna out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then immediately cut out a nice size square, place it on a nice plate and pour fresh hot spaghetti sauce on it, sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese and place a fresh sprig of parsley on the side and Walla!!! Wonderful! Oh, you're gonna love it! You can also place the whole pan of lasagna right on the table and serve it from there, but make sure fresh, hot sauce is poured on top of the lasagna on each plate. Yum!
That's it! You're done..... Easy as Pie!
Here is a video I made when I was visiting my Sicilian mother in-law in Florida for Easter.
Video shows all the steps for making Easter Lasagna!
This is the Lasagna we always make for Christmas day.
I spent some time to explain how I make the meat sauce which is a very important part of the Lasagna.
Lasagna Photo Gallery
Birthday Lasagna Photo Gallery
Here are some photos of Lasagna I made for Easter 2011