This is a great lasagna recipe and it is vegetarian and could easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free lasagna noodles. My family absolutely loves this dish. It was a fan-favorite when our kids were growing up.
You will notice that there is an extra cup of red sauce left after preparing the lasagna. My family likes lasagna with sauce on the side so that’s the reason for the extra red sauce. You could also add a little more sauce to each layer to use up the 6 cups or you could just use 5 cups.
As I have said in other casserole recipes, I almost always make two or three smaller dishes of a casserole. I bake one for dinner the day I prepare the casserole and I wrap up and put the other(s) in the freezer for another day.
To bake one from the freezer, defrost it in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours before baking and bake as directed above. Or if you’re like me and don’t usually think that far ahead, put the casserole straight from the freezer into the cold oven. Turn the oven on the 375 degrees. I do this to be sure the dish from the freezer has a chance to warm up with the oven. I’ve always been concerned that dish straight from the freezer and into a hot oven would be a bad idea. Allow the casserole to bake with the foil cover for 75 – 90 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese on top of melted and golden.
15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
4 cups mozzarella cheese (about 1 pound), grated, divided
1/2 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
1 clove of garlic, crushed or microplaned
1 tablespoon fresh basil, fined chopped OR 1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped OR 2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups Marinara Sauce or store bought marinara sauce
12 – 14 lasagne noodles, traditional or no-boil. Boil the traditional noodles according to the package directions before assembling the lasagna.
- Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare one 3 quart casserole dish OR two 1.5 – 2 quart casserole dishes by lightly spraying with oil. Set the dish or dishes aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, eggs, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the grated mozzarella cheese, paprika, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined.
- FOR 3 QUART CASSEROLE: Spread 1 cup of the red sauce in the bottom of the casserole. Lay 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce. The noodles should not overlap. Spoon 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and spread it evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese evenly over the ricotta. Spread 1 cup of red sauce over the mozzarella. Continue the process of layering the noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, and red sauce. You will end up with 5 layers of red sauce and 4 layers each of noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella. You should have 1/2 cup mozzarella left. Sprinkle the final layer of red sauce with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan. You will have approximately 1 cup of red sauce remaining. I always heat this up and serve it on the side with the lasagna. My family likes extra saucy lasagna.
Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil. Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The cheese on top will be melted and golden.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- FOR THE TWO SMALLER CASSEROLES: You will be dividing the amount of each layer between the two smaller casseroles. For example, spread 1/2 cup of red sauce in the bottom of each casserole. You may need to cut or break the lasagna noodles to fit the shape of the smaller casseroles. You can use the pieces of noodles to fill out layers. Depending on the shape of the smaller casseroles, I sometimes end up with only 3 layers of noodles and cheeses and 4 layers of red sauce. You will still end up using all the ricotta mixture and all the grated cheeses. Your final layer will be red sauce topped with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The cheese on top will be melted and golden.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.