Old School Lasagna

There are as many lasagna recipes as there are grown Italian men missing their Moms. What I like about this version, is that it is as authentic and old school as it gets. I warn you though, this will probably be the most involved and process rich version you can make, with everything fresh. While I advocate fresh lasagna noodles, I leave that to you and your conscience.


  • 1 lb Sweet Italian sausage – loose
  • 1 lb Ground chuck – can use hamburger
  • 1 lb Mozzarella – grate yourself, don’t use pre-shredded if you care about quality
  • 15 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 0.5 cup Romano cheese – freshly grated
  • 0.5 cup Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
  • 9-10 Provolone slices – thin, get from deli not pre-packaged
  • 12 Lasagna noodles – you decided how you get to them
  • 1 Onion – diced ~0.5 cup
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Garlic cloves – diced or more/less depending on confident you are about the after dinner…
  • 28 oz can Crushed tomatoes – better than fresh and already peeled
  • 15 oz can Tomato sauce
  • 12 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 oz water
  • 2 TBL white sugar
  • 0.5 cup Basil – chiffonade
  • 4 TBL – Parsley – chopped – Italian of course
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 0.25 tsp black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp Fennel seeds
  • Oregano – to taste (optional)
  • dash of ground nutmeg


  1. Mise en Place – measure and prepare your ingredients prior to starting.
  2. Prepare Meat
    1. Add sausage and beef to heavy pot, cast iron is best.
    2. As it warms, add onions and fennel and cook through
    3. During the last minute of cooking, add the garlic.
  3. Make the Sauce
    1. Add the crushed tomatoes to the meat and mix well.
    2. Add the tomato sauce and paste, along with the sugar.
    3. Add the water, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, oregano, half the basil, and half the parsley
    4. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to slow simmer.
    5. Simmer covered 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Prepare the noodles
    1. Rather than cook store bought dry noodles, soak in a pan of hot water for 30 mins.
    2. Make sure noodles are completely covered.
    3. Drain and set aside.
  5. Mix the ricotta, egg and nutmeg.
  6. Mix the Parmesan and Romano cheeses
  7. Assembly
    1. Spread ~1.5 cups of meat sauce on bottom of a lasagna pan (stainless steel deep sided as long as the noodles).
    2. Cover sauce with noodles (should use ~4).
    3. Spoon half the ricotta mixture over noodles.
    4. Top with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella.
    5. Spread ~1.5 cups of sauce over the cheese
    6. Sprinkle with ~0.5 cups of the Parmesan mixture.
    7. Lay noodles (~4) over the cheese.
    8. Top with remaining ricotta.
    9. Lay Provolone slices over ricotta.
    10. Top with 1.5 cups meat sauce.
    11. Sprinkle 1/3rd cup of Parmesan mixture over sauce.
    12. Top with the remaining 4 noodles.
    13. Spread rest of sauce on top.
    14. Cover that with 2 cups of mozzarella, then the remaining Parmesan
  8. Prepare to bake or refrigerate for 24 hours (take out 1 hour before baking)
    1. Preheat oven to 375 F
    2. Bake uncovered 25 mins.
    3. Cover with foil and bake an additional 30 mins.
    4. If top is not golden brown, finish baking with foil removed.
    5. Let sit for at least 15 mins to cool before slicing and serving
      1. It is dangerous to your guests to serve the lasagna too hot

Note about cheese: Pre-shredded cheese is coated in starch, which a) is not good for you, b) throws off the consistency of your dish, and c) doesn’t melt properly.