Entertaining should be an enjoyable experience. I don’t want to be in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove while my guests are enjoying conversation and cocktails. I want to be a part of the party too. This is my favorite go-to recipe for a casual dinner with friends or family. It can be made ahead, it tastes amazing (even kids love it!) and best of all, it’s not difficult to make. You can enjoy spending time with your guests and then revel in the compliments that will come your way when they have tucked into your homemade lemon-ricotta lasagne!
I like to set a simple and rustic table with succulents or herbs….nothing fussy. Some crusty bread with a tossed salad, and you have the makings of an easy dinner party. This dish can be made up to a day in advance, or in the rare case that you have any left over, it tastes wonderful heated up the next day or you can even freeze it !
I found this recipe a few years ago in an issue of House Beautiful magazine.
Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)
- 1 pound high quality lasagne noodles (I use Barilla oven-ready lasagne…no boiling necessary!)
- 16 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped very fine
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled organic tomatoes, drained
- 1 14½ ounce can whole peeled organic tomatoes with juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 22 ounces good ricotta cheese
- some lemon zest (to taste…I use about a tablespoon) The recipe calls for the zest from 1 lemon but I had a big lemon!
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I use Meyer lemons for their delicious flavor)
- 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into ⅓ inch rounds
1 Purée tomatoes and juice in a processor or food mill. Sauté garlic briefly in oil, add the tomatoes and salt, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, make the ricotta filling: Add ricotta to food processor with lemon zest, lemon juice, 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano, and 6-8 basil leaves. Process until smooth.
3 To assemble: Spread a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Add one layer of uncooked lasagne noodles, breaking if necessary to cover the bottom. Spread half of the ricotta filling over the noodles, then one-third of the tomato sauce, then half of the grated mozzarella. Repeat for another layer of noodles, filling, sauce, and cheese. Add a final layer of noodles and the remaining tomato sauce. Arrange the fresh mozzarella rounds on the surface in a pleasing way, not overlapping. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano on the casserole. Place a basil leaf on top of the mozzarella rounds and let the dish sit for 30 minutes.
4 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. After the noodles have had time to absorb the tomato juices, bake for 45-50 minutes, until bubbly and beginning to brown. Let the lasagne rest for 10 minutes and serve.
If you want to make it in advance, cover and refrigerate up to a day ahead. Just be sure to take out and let it come to room temperature before baking. I promise you will want to make this again and again!