Lasagna is a very easy dish to make so when I was thinking of a dish to make for a small group, I thought that would be a great option. Now, I could have just dumped some marinara onto some pasta and stick it in the oven, but that’s just not how I do it. While I wasn’t going to take on my own sauce, I did try to bring out some more flavor than you would otherwise see. I started with some onion and garlic in olive oil.
Instead of just throwing some ground meat in, I decided to add some bolder flavor and found some great chorizo at the grocery store. So I removed it from the casing and fried it up along with the ground beef. The chorizo released a little bit of the fat and flavor giving a deeper level to the flavor.
You can see how the chorizo changed the color in the onion, that’s where the flavor is. Once the chorizo had rendered some of that fat, I added the ground beef. Because we got fairly lean ground beef I wanted to use that fat to help fry the meat without it drying out.
So once I developed some flavor there, I added it to the tomato sauce. I just love that deep red color from quality crushed tomatoes. While I did want to add mushrooms, if you add them too early they’ll overcook. So I put this into the crockpot and let it cook overnight.
About an hour before we left, I went ahead to finish off the lasagna. I sliced the mushrooms nice and thin so it wouldn’t be too obtrusive in case people don’t like mushrooms.
Layering the lasagna is pretty easy, just start with the sauce on the bottom so it doesn’t undercook the pasta at the very bottom or have it stick. Then just start layering pasta, mushroom, cheese, pasta, sauce, mushrooms, cheese, etc. Make sure you end with the cheese on top.
The sauce cooked the pasta and steam the mushrooms. I covered the pasta with aluminum foil and put in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I pulled it out of the oven and checked with a knife to make sure the pasta is fully cooked. It should go smoothly down to the bottom (if you feel resistance, just put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes). Once it’s knife tender, I put it under the broiler for around 30 seconds until it develops nice color on top, kind of like this.
So give it a spin, it’s well worth the additional trouble. The sauce develops amazing flavor overnight and the lasagna cooks beautifully. I know it’s quite a few more steps than usual but they’re all very easy steps and if you take them one at a time, they won’t feel like much trouble at all.