Well, those are some pretty big boasting words! “World’s Best” is maybe pushing it just a tad, but our dinner guests helped themselves to seconds and wiped their plates clean. OK, this lasagna powerhouse does take most of an afternoon, so be prepared to spend some time. But, oh how you will love it when dinner time rolls around. Your dining companions will be screaming for more, as did ours.
The back story is, John Chandler submitted this lasagna recipe to Allrecipes more than 20-some years ago. One of their top-performing recipes of all time, World’s Best Lasagna racks up more than 7 million views per year and has ranked among the most popular lasagna recipes on the internet for two decades!
Folks adore this lasagna recipe because it’s incredibly customizable, so you can easily alter the ingredient list to suit your needs. Our personal touches included using an entire pound of mozzarella, and a bit more grated parm than called for. Then a bit of the leftover meat sauce and mozzarella slices were the crowning feature.
While assembling, whether or not you lay the lasagna noodles length- or crosswise, you’ll likely have to trim them down a bit to fit the dish.
The assembled lasagna should take about 50 minutes to cook in an oven preheated to 375°. Cover it with foil for the first 25 minutes, then let it cook uncovered for the final 25 minutes. Also, it’s important to let the lasagna rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you cut into it.
We were all so excited to eat, I completely forgot to take photos of the finished lasagna, so snapped a couple of the leftovers…
Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat until well browned. Remove as much excess grease as possible and discard.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. Season with sugar, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and pepper. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.
In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles length- or crosswise over the meat sauce (which ever fits your dish the best). Spread with 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, spray foil with cooking spray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Rest lasagna for 15 minutes before serving.
Pistachios are a borderline addiction for me (although I’m usually not picky when it comes to nuts of any sort). In fact, whenever we stop at Costco’s, it’s pretty likely we’ll pick up a 1.5-pound bag of the shelled, roasted/salted variety.
Did you know Sicily is famous for its pistachios, as well as for ricotta cheese? In this recipe, Milk Street blends the two, along with fresh basil and chives, to create a simple pesto to toss with al dente pasta.
There’s no need to grate the Parmesan—simply cut it into chunks and toss the pieces into the blender. The pesto is good on a wide variety of pasta shapes, but the hollow centers and surface ridges of rigatoni do a particularly good job of gripping the rich, creamy sauce. We used rotini whose spirals also made an easy job of grasping that sauce.
Milk Street advises NOT to use toasted or roasted pistachios because they claim, in this case, raw pistachios are best. Their bright color and natural sweetness lend a vibrant, full-flavored pesto. Well, as I mentioned, we had the roasted salted pistachios and went ahead and used them.
Now don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta. You’ll need some of the starchy seasoned liquid to thin out the pesto.
¾ cup raw pistachios, plus 2 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 oz. Parmesan cheese (without rind), cut into 4 or 5 pieces
½ cup lightly packed fresh basil
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh chives
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1½ cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
In a blender, combine the ricotta, the whole pistachios, oil, Parmesan, basil, chives, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and blend until creamy, about 1 minute; the pesto should have a consistency similar to yogurt.
Pour the pesto over the pasta and stir, adding more reserved pasta water as needed so the sauce coats the noodles. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with the chopped pistachios.
In this hearty vegetarian dish borrowed from Milk Street, an umami-rich mushroom sauce combines with tarragon-tossed tagliatelle pasta. Red miso and mild portobellos ground the flavors in earthy richness that contrasts well with a finishing spoonful of chive-seasoned ricotta cheese. It is rich and filling, so a simple side salad makes a nice accompaniment.
Tagliatelle, which oddly enough we were unable to find, is an egg noodle similar in shape to fettuccine, but with a finer texture and richer flavor. Dried versions are often sold bundled in nests. In its place, we substituted pappardelle, where the only difference is in dimension—pappardella is one and a half wider than tagliatelle and slightly thicker (although Cipriani is a very thin pasta).
Milk Street notes that the time table for this recipe is 30 minutes. It took us double that even though our brand of pasta took only 4 minutes for al dente. Not sure why, maybe the prep took longer?? Just want to give you a heads up on that possibility.
TIP: The mushroom gills will give the sauce a murky appearance if left on, so make sure to scrape them off.
2 lbs. portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. red miso
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, chives and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt and cook until al dente.
Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water; toss to coat.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until foaming.
Add the mushrooms, shallots and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are well browned, about 10 minutes.
Pour in the wine, scrape up any browned bits and simmer until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the remaining 1½ cups reserved cooking water, bring to a simmer and cook over medium-high until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes.
Off heat, stir in the miso and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Add the tarragon to the pasta and toss, then transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the pasta. Serve dolloped with the ricotta mixture and drizzled with olive oil.