By Case D. Fischer
A while back someone asked me, “What made you want to go into the food business and start Fischer & Wieser?” I remembered watching people come into Das Peach Haus when I was in high school, and the joy on their faces when they tasted a peach right out of the orchard, or a jar of jelly made by Mark’s mom Estella or his sister-in-law Jean Wieser – it made them happy. When I thought about it, I realized our vision boiled down to one simple thing, making people happy. When we go to work every day all our team members have one goal in mind: To create flavorful experiences that make people happy. Today it’s my pleasure to share another great recipe from a friend of Fischer & Wieser that is sure to make you and your family happy; a 5-layer lasagna.
This Italian dish dates all the way back to the 14th century, originating in Naples, Italy. It seems like so many iconic Italian foods originate in Naples. For centuries it has been tried, customized, and consumed across the world with different additions from numerous cultures. Lasagna can be intimidating for some people because of all the work it can take, but the great part is, today’s recipe doesn’t require as much work. The cooking time is cut in half by using our Mom’s Special Marinara Sauce. This is a great sauce made with simple ingredients – tomatoes, basil and cream. It’s rich in flavor, and a perfect addition to any Italian pasta dish. We will use two types of meats, three types of cheeses, and a lot of layers. This recipe is very simple, and it makes for a great weeknight dinner.
Lasagna is considered a staple in homes and restaurants around the world. It is known for the flat wide pasta noodles with ridged ends, in between meats, sauce, cheese, and (sometimes) vegetables. The pasta noodles can be boiled, or to save even more time you can use oven ready pasta sheets. These require no boiling and are cooked in the oven using the moisture from the cheeses and pasta sauce to soften. You can pick up these oven ready noodles at our friendly neighborhood HEB.
Lasagna can be broken down into four simple steps: boil the noodles, make the sauce, assemble the lasagna and bake it. Lasagna is a dish of repetition; you get one layer down and you have the key to the entire dish. There are 3, 4, 5, 6, and even 7-layer lasagnas. The deeper your casserole dish is, the more layers your lasagna will have. I recommend using a 9”X13” dish, with rounded or squared edges. Layering lasagna is all about figuring out the steps, then repeating & building on top of what you have already done. A great meat-based sauce will make the flavor flow through the entire dish and give you ultimate satisfaction with each bite. Browning the sausage and beef will ensure you have the best meaty flavors in the sauce. Combining the two types of meats just adds to the layers of flavor.
One step that is often forgotten when making lasagna is to let the pasta sit for about 30 minutes when you remove it from the oven. This creates a stable structure and will keep the layers together when you cut it. If you aren’t a meat eater, no worries; lasagna can be made numerous ways and enjoyed by everyone. Keto-friendly (substitute lasagna pasta for sliced zucchini squash), gluten free (substitute for gluten free lasagna noodles), vegetarian (take out meat and add vegetables like carrots, zucchini or eggplant), and even vegan (take out meat & cheese, substitute for dairy free cheese, plant based ‘meat’, and add vegetables). Now all you need to do is grab a loaf of garlic bread and toss a green salad and you are ready to go – enjoy!
16oz Lasagna Noodles (or oven ready noodles)
24oz Mom’s Special Marinara Sauce (or any pasta sauce)
½ pound lean ground beef
½ pound Italian sausage, casing removed
4oz fresh mozzarella
1 cup shredded mozzarella (low moisture/part skim)
¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sea salt
15oz whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella (low moisture/part skim)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp oregano flakes
½ tsp parsley flakes
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water, sea salt & olive oil to a boil (the olive oil will prevent the lasagna noodles from sticking together after draining). Add lasagna noodles to the boiling water, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, according to package directions, this is usually about 10-12 minutes. Drain the noodles & set aside. ( If using no boil noodles, skip this step )
3. In a large pot over medium heat, brown the beef until it is browned on the bottom, (2-3 minutes) breaking apart the beef into slightly larger chunks.* Add the marinara sauce, and stir frequently. Reduce heat to low.
4. Mix ricotta, egg, ½ cup parmesan, 4 oz mozzarella, salt, pepper, oregano flakes, and parsley together in a small bowl. Set aside.
5. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.
6. Place cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce, covering the bottom of the dish. Spread ⅓ of the ricotta cheese mixture onto the noodles. Spread ¼ of meat sauce. Add another layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat those steps until the lasagna is a bit beneath the top of the casserole dish. (For a 5-layer lasagna, repeat 3 times then finalize your dish with the next step)
7. Top the lasagna with a final layer of noodles, an even layer of pasta sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Tear fresh mozzarella and place in random spots on the top of the dish.
8. Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes, or until the cheese becomes bubbly.
9. Let lasagna rest for about 30 minutes before slicing. Remove with two spatulas and enjoy!
*To make meatballs, roll precooked ground sausage/ground beef into 1 inch balls, and place in the pot. Cook on all sides until brown.