Meaty, Cheesy Lasagna (with gluten free option)


A few months ago I was standing in the checkout line at Kohl’s with an armload of clothes for my growing-too-fast kids, and a timetable that was pushing the boundaries. Rocking my weight from one foot to another, I impatiently waited for the lovely, older lady in front of me to get situated before moving along with her bagged items, when she suddenly turned to face me.

“I smell donuts.” She said, then turned to the cashier and asked her if she smelled donuts. The cashier thoughtfully sniffed the air and said, “Yes! I do smell donuts.” They both looked at me for confirmation. I casually sniffed the sleeve of my arm. Yep, the sweet smell was coming from me. “Um, I think you are smelling me. I am a baker.”

While I thought it was a slightly odd experience, it got me thinking of how smells are so much of a memory trigger. My Dad was an Olde Spice Man. My friend Marge is lavender. Great Grandma was ginger. Mystery Man is a blend of a certain shampoo and aftershave.  And I guess I am baked treats, and if it’s not, it is most likely Italian food. Things could be worse.

Best Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb spicy Italian Sausage, removed from casings
15 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
48 ounces marinara sauce (two 24 ounce jars) or 1/2 recipe Meaty Marinara Sauce Sauce
9 Ounce box no-boil lasagne noodles* (such as Barilla)

*Gluten free version: Use one box Tinkyada Gluten free Lasagna Noodles, boiled for 1/2 suggested cooking time, then rinsed under cool water. I have found these locally in Meijer grocery stores.

• Skillet for browning meat, 9″x13″ pyrex (or similar) glass baking dish.

• Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Over Medium/High heat and in batches if necessary, brown ground beef and sausage, breaking up into crumbles as it cooks. Drain and return to skillet.
• Add 24 ounces (half) of the Marinara Sauce to the meat mixture and combine.
• In a 9×13 glass dish, spread about one cup of marinara sauce (without meat) evenly covering the bottom of the dish.
• Now it is time to layer. Here is the order:
• Arrange 4 to 5 noodles across the dish. Overlap the noodles slightly if needed.
• About 4 cups of the sauce/meat mixture on top of the noodles.
• Evenly dot with ricotta cheese.
• Another layer of noodles, slightly press them into the pan without breaking or tearing.
• Sauce/meat mixture.
• 1/2 Parmesan cheese and 1/2 of mozzarella cheese evenly over top.
• One last layer of noodles.
• Remaining meat/sauce mixture and remaining marinara sauce.
•  Remaining cheese, making sure the cheese is spread all the way out the the edges of the pan.
• Place dish on a foil-lined baking sheet and cover dish with a foil tent, taking care that the foil is not touching the Cheese topping.
• Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
• Remove the foil tent and place back in the oven set to BROIL.
• Broil until the top is nicely browned and the cheese is bubbly, about 3 to 5 minutes.
• Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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