When you grow up in an Italian home (like I did) at least 3-4 times a week our family dinner was always something Italian. I never really considered the dishes I grew up on to be ‘Italian’ because that was the normal standard cuisine in our home. Friends of mine, their families would eat things like tuna noodle casserole and pot roast for dinner – but not us. Italian was our standard, the only thing that changed was the type of Italian dish it was. Sometimes it was lasagna and other times it was rigatoni, pizza, baked ziti, pasta fagioli, etc… If I had it my way today, it would still be the same because this girl loves her pasta!
There’s something about the marriage of flavors between tomatoes and basil with hints of garlic topped with tangy parmigiano in a sauce with noodles and bits of meat… Ok – maybe I sound a little bit hungry! The thought of all those flavors combined brings me memories of my mother’s homemade lasagna. To me, lasagna is one of those comfort foods that are right up there with fried chicken & gravy. I enjoy making these as family dinners because they freeze so well and are perfect to feel a large family of hungry kids.
So to make a quick lasagna that rivals’s my mom’s (her’s takes forever to make, btw) I got some Barilla Tomato & Basil Sauce and some Barilla “oven ready” Lasagne noodles to go with it. I like to add other ingredients layered in, like home made meatballs, ricotta cheese, mozzarella and grated parmigiano cheese.
I usually have meatballs already prepared because they can be used in a lot of different dishes. These can be made ahead of time and kept in the freezer for up to 3 or 4 weeks. I first made my meatballs by combining 1 lb of ground beef or a 1/2 lb & 1/2 lb mixture of ground beef and ground pork. I combined with 1 egg and 1/2 – 3/4 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs. I also like to throw in about 1/4 cup of parmigiano before I begin rolling the meat into balls.
Heat a pan to medium and coat with a drizzle of olive oil.Season the meatballs with salt and drop into a hot pan – you should hear a light sizzle. Brown them for a few minutes then transfer them to a cookie sheet and bake them in a hot oven at 325F for about 6-8 minutes. Once they come out, it’s important to let it rest for a few minutes.
When I prepared the Barilla Tomato & Basil Sauce for my lasagna, I decided to heat it slowly with 1-2 chopped up fresh basil leaves because it adds such a pretty aroma to the sauce. When assembling my lasagna, I always coat the bottom of the pan with a small layer of sauce, so the noodles don’t stick to the sides of the dish.
I like to assemble everything in a repetitive order.. mozzarella, parmigiano, ricotta, meatballs, lasagna noodle, sauce until it’s layered to capacity or you run out off Barilla “oven ready” lasagne strips – whichever comes first!
Once it’s all put together, bake for 30-40 minutes at 375F. Be careful and keep an eye on it! – cheese burns quite easily. We couldn’t wait to dig in!!! I was excited because I created an easy, delicious & low budget homemade meal for my family! It doesn’t hurt that Tom Thumb has got a special going on that gives you 1$ off the Barilla Tomato & Basil sauce and 1$ off the Oven Ready Lasagne Strips.
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