Really fast and easy do ahead Lasagna evolution!!

When I stop and think about it the older I get the more inclined I am to find ways to make things ahead.  While I won't compromise on quality or taste and end result if I can make it easier on me by making it ahead or simplified that is always my course.  This was prepared Friday evening in anticipation of Saturday night supper with an unknown quantity of people which turned out to have been 9.

My husband had a thing for good old Ragu spaghetti sauce.  It is the only sauce he has ever liked in the 37 years we have been married.  So I have long ago given up my preference for my Mother's home made sauce and use the Ragu.  I have found also long ago that I get an excellent result by not cooking the lasagna noodles but rather assembling the dish using uncooked pasta the night before and letting it sit, covered in the refrigerator overnight.  The pasta absorbs the excess juices and flavors and bakes to the perfect doneness when the final cooking takes place.

So here is my method and recipe:

1 pound of bulk sweet Italian sausage, browned with
1 pound of ground round
1/2 box of flat lasagna noodles
1 large jar Ragu spaghetti meat flavored sauce
1 pound of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
1 pound of ricotta cheese
1 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

I use a 12" x 15" glass baking dish but I have made it in a 9x13.  It bakes faster and does not bubble over if you use the larger dish.  Grease the dish and set it aside.  Brown the meats and season with half of the salt and pepper.

This is the lasagna before I covered it to be refrigerated overnight.
Spread about 1/3 C. of the plain sauce over the bottom of the prepared pan then make a layer of the noodles.  Add the remaining sauce to the meat adding the Italian seasoning and blending together well.

Using a medium sized bowl stir together the ricotta, 1 C. of the Parmesan, the egg, nutmeg, and rest of the salt and pepper.

Top the noodles with 1/2 the ricotta mixture then 1/2 the meat sauce and then tear the mozzarella over it all evenly.  Start again with a layer of noodles. top with ricotta then meat sauce, again tear the mozzarella and finnish with a sprinkle of the reserved Parmesan cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and/or foil and refrigerate all day or overnight or freeze until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and bake approx. an hour.  If it is browning too quickly tent with foil.  Be sure it is nice and bubbly all the way around to ensure it has baked through.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing for ease of serving.

Note that I use only 2 layers of noodles and use more meat than most recipes.  That is our families lasagna evolution.

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