The Best Ever Lasagna with Ground Beef, Red Pepper, Fresh Spinach & Basil

Make This Tonight & Settle In for the Post-Holiday Blur
Filed Under > Everyday Dinner

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It’s time to get extra cozy in our post-Christmas coma (and hello, it’s freezing outside).  For us, that means fixing a dish of the best ever lasagna for dinner tonight.  Since nobody is really working today (right?!), it’s the perfect day to make this crowd-pleasing meal.  And as it’s cooking in the oven, settle in for some online shopping for all the things Santa missed!

Like any pasta, the best ever lasagna is even better the next day.  It soaks up all the layers of goodness and seasonings galore. My lasagna involves a little different of a filling than you may have grown up making: ground beef, onion, garlic, red pepper, fresh basil and fresh spinach.  And to compliment the filling, I whip together a thick, spicy (if that’s your thing) tomato sauce that just cannot be beat.  In this dish, I also used my DIY herb infused olive oil that I shared last week; it’s simply a difference you can taste!  

I’ve made this lasagna several times to find my groove with cook times and the layering process, plus experimenting with different types of cheese (ricotta and fresh mozzarella is my go-to).  And I usually get overwhelmed with cooking the lasagna noodles just right, so I like to make the ground beef filling in my dutch oven ahead of time, setting it aside until the lasagna dish is ready to be stacked and layered.  This way I don’t get frazzled or risk skipping a few steps!  Anyway, I’d love to know if lasagna is one of your favorite cozy dishes like it is mine?!  Enjoy!  Truly, MKR

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The Best Ever Lasagna
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 lbs ground beef (you can use faux-beef too)
  2. 1 onion
  3. 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  5. A couple sprigs fresh basil
  6. 1 bag fresh spinach, finely chopped
  7. 1 small can tomato paste
  8. 1 can diced tomatoes
  9. 1 1/2-2 large can spaghetti marinera sauce (I like mine with a little spice). You want to choose a thicker sauce, not with a soupy consistency
  10. 10-12 lasagna noodles
  11. 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  12. 2 8-oz. tubs fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  13. salt and pepper, to taste
  14. 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  15. cayenne, if preferred
  16. + olive oil (I use my herb infused olive oil for extra flavor)
For the filling
  1. In a large dutch oven, add olive oil, garlic and onions. Sautee until they turn translucent.
  2. Next, add your red pepper. Cook until soft (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add ground beef, canned tomatoes and tomato paste (this thickens the sauce), tomato sauce, fresh basil and about a tablespoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh ground pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
  4. If you want spice like I always do, add a sprinkle of cayenne.
  5. Add olive oil (I use my rosemary olive oil and basil olive oil for additional flavor).
  6. Stir it all together, letting it mix well.
  7. Bring sauce to a boil, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes to really bring out the flavor.
  8. During the last 5 minutes, add your spinach.
  9. Taste as you go; does it need more sauce, more beef, more salt, etc.?
For the lasagna
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles per package directions.
  3. Spray your pan, apply a very thin layer of marinera sauce with a few spoonfulls (I reserve half of the jar to add throughout the layers because I feel like lasagna gets really dry).
  4. Lay down the cooked lasagna noodles. Mine actually laid perfectly vertical in my pan (depends on size and shape of pan).
  5. Add your ricotta cheese, spreading evenly with a spatula or your fingers.
  6. Add ground beef filling mixture.
  7. Repeat 1-2 times for additional layers per size of your dish.
  8. Cover dish with tin foil, and cook for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, check the dish and remove tin foil. If edges are coming away from pan, then you'll know it's ready to cook the final step, uncovered.
  10. Remove tin foil, lay a final layer of mozzarella and cook until it completely melts (about 10 mins)
  11. Switch to broiler to brown the top of the dish and watch closely (you don't want the mozzarella to burn). It should take about 2 minutes on broil.
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Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

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  • Ashley / 08.06.2018

    Did you brown the beef or add directly to the sauce raw?

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