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Cindi Madsen - Classic Italian Lasagna

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Make the classic Italian dish featured in Best-selling author Cindi Madsen's newest book “Country Hearts.”
Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 lasagna noodles, no-bake or cooked al dente, drained
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

ITALIAN MEAT SAUCE:

  • 1 (1-pound 3-ounce) package sweet Italian sausage, bulk or links, casing removed
  • 1-pound ground chuck
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cans (28-ounce each) crushed tomatoes with tomato juice
  • 1 can (15-ounce) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14½-ounce) chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

RICOTTA MIXTURE:

  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Cindi Madsen - "Country Hearts" Lasagna - Hallmark Publishing

YIELD: 12 servings
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 2½ hours
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours

DIRECTIONS:

1. To prepare Italian meat sauce: in a large casserole pot or Dutch oven, brown italian sausage and ground chuck over medium heat, breaking apart meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain excess fat.

2. Return meat to pot; add olive oil, garlic, italian seasoning and crushed red pepper; cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, fresh basil, salt, sugar and black pepper; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until meat sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning; set aside to cool.

3. To prepare ricotta mixture: in a large bowl, thoroughly mix ricotta, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and egg; set aside.

4. To assemble lasagna: preheat oven to 375 degrees f. Spread 2 cups Italian meat sauce in the bottom of a large 11-by-14-inch baking dish. Layer 4 lasagna noodles over sauce. Spread one-half of the ricotta mixture evenly over noodles. Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 2 cups Italian meat sauce. Repeat with a second layer of 4 lasagna noodles, the remaining ricotta mixture, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 2 cups Italian meat sauce. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, remaining italian meat sauce and 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

5. Bake lasagna for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. (cover top loosely with foil if cheese is browning too fast.) Remove from oven. Let lasagna rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

6. To serve: using a serrated knife, slice lasagna into 12 portions. Top evenly with grated parmesan cheese.

For quick and easy lasagna noodle prep: arrange lasagna noodles in a baking dish, slowly pour boiling water over noodles, cover with foil or film wrap and let soak for 20 minutes or until pliable.

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