I adapted a recipe from Allrecipes.com called "World's Best Lasagna." Not sure it's the world's best, but this is sure darn good. I've made this recipe 4 times now, tweaking it here and there each time and I think I got it right last night. My father-in-law went back for fourths.
The recipe calls for sweet Italian sausage. If you can't find sweet, use mild instead. Sometimes it's available ground like hamburger, but more often you'll find it in casings. Just squish it out of the casings and throw the casings away. You can use ground beef, but you are going to lose a lot of flavor.
ALWAYS boil your lasagna noodles. There are cheater ideas out there, like soaking the noodles in hot water to soften them up. Don't do it! You get gummy noodles and terrible texture. Bleck!
This calls for 12 oz, or 3 cups, of shredded mozzarella. I'll let you in on a secret: I actually only used 2 cups of mozzarella - in the two inside layers. I used a cup of shredded Monterey Jack on the top because it looks better when it cooks. Just a thought.
adapted from World's Best Lasagna on Allrecipes.com
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil and garlic
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. parsley, divided
15 oz container ricotta cheese (NOT cottage cheese)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz (3 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box lasagna noodles
In a large saucepan, brown Italian sausage with onions and garlic. In a blender, puree diced tomatoes; pour into sauce pan. Add tomato sauce, sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, basil, fennel, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and 1 tsp. parsley. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes more.
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. parsley.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 1/3 of meat sauce in bottom of 13x9 baking dish. Cover with 4 noodles. Spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture on noodles; sprinkle with one cup mozzarella. Cover with 4 noodles. Spread another 1/3 of meat sauce; cover with 4 noodles. Spread last 1/2 of ricotta mixture and sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella; cover with 4 noodles. Spread last 1/3 of meat sauce over noodles.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and sprinkle last cup of mozzarella over top. Bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.