Lasagna

Okay, I have a secret. Deep breath. Here goes.

I’m not exactly perfect.

Don’t tell my kids I said that. I messed up. It all started with Disney World. See, I never really considered Mickey Mouse a bad influence. I mean, he’s usually a stand up guy and all, but there’s this place on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. It’s on the right just as you go in the park. And Mickey has filled the place slam to the top with ... gluten.

Now I have to admit, when you tell someone at Disney World you can’t have gluten, they will trip over themselves to ensure that your food doesn’t even get close enough to take a picture of anything that might have a grain of wheat in it. They take gluten intolerance seriously. Like, “I’m going to lose my job, be taken out back, drawn and quartered” seriously. So once you commit to eating gluten free at Disney, forget about changing your mind. No, sir. Mickey’s Minions will throw themselves on a hand grenade before they let gluten touch your plate.

But the Main Street Confectionery is unguarded by the gluten cops. Even though I know Mickey can be more than accommodating of a gluten-free diet, I decided a cookie wouldn’t kill me. My doctor probably won’t be thrilled with me, but I’m happy to report that, in fact, my indiscretion did not result in Disney World’s first cookie fatality. I didn’t even notice a difference.

Well, except for the guilt. When you pay a professional a lot of money to give you advice, there is a certain amount of guilt involved in ignoring it. So, when I got home, I made a commitment to make up for my indiscretion.

Enter the best lasagna you’ve ever eaten in your life. I’m not even kidding. This didn’t even feel like I was being good. And it makes enough to feed a small army (even in a house with two teenagers), so...leftovers!!

It takes a while to make, and I generally try to avoid anything that has more ingredients than will fit on my computer screen at once. But trust me, it’s worth the effort. Add a little homemade bread, and you’ll never want to go out for Italian food again.

Lasagna

Lasagna

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

28 ounces crushed tomatoes

12 ounces tomato paste

13 ounces cans canned tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (divided)

6 lasagna noodles

16 ounces ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot (I use an electric pressure cooker), cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon of the salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and remaining salt.

Preheat oven to 375.

To assemble, spread one third of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese. Spoon half of the remaining meat sauce over mozzarella, arrange remaining 3 noodles over the sauce, then spread the other half of the ricotta cheese on top. Top with remaining meat sauce, remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil (to prevent sticking, spray foil with cooking spray).

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.