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Nana Pacittos Homemade Lasagna

Nana Pacitto's Italian Lasagna

YouTube: Nana Pacitto's Homemade Lasagna

Garfield the cat said it best: What is nature's most perfect food? Lasagna!

In order to prepare this dish, it is of course necessary to first cook up a batch of Nana Pacitto's Homemade Pasta Sauce. Nothing else will do. Once the pasta sauce is ready, we can then move on to the lasagna.

Tools needed: 9 inch by 13 inch lasagna pan; cheesecloth or a strainer for the ricotta cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Add at least 2 gallons of water to a large pot. Salt the water with about 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water (2 gallons of water = 2 tablespoons of salt). Do not add oil to the water while boiling – the oil will coat the lasagna noodles and keep the sauce from sticking.

While the water is heating up, use cheesecloth or a very fine strainer to drain the liquid from the ricotta cheese – not enough to dry it out, but enough excess liquid to keep it from being runny. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt. To add flavor, add a "palmful" of parmesan and two "palmfuls" of mozzarella to the cheese mixture.

Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. The noodles should be somewhat tougher than al dente – a little more chewy than you would normally serve pasta for eating. (That's because the noodles should not be too soft! Tougher noodles will hold the layers of the lasagna together. Also, this lasagna will bake with sauce and cheese, and it will absorb liquid from the other ingredients.) Drain the noodles, and rinse with cold water.

To assemble, spread 6 lasagna noodles lengthwise over the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Cover the ricotta cheese with mozzarella. Spread 1 1/2 cups of pasta sauce over the mozzarella. Cover the sauce with a layer of noodles. Repeat layers: ricotta cheese, mozzarella, pasta sauce, noodles. For the final layer, top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Add meatballs from the sauce over the top, placing them across the lasagna. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

A YouTube video on the making of this lasagna: Nana Pacitto's Homemade Lasagna