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Cheese Lasagna

I’m very excited to start this year with a very delicious post, a comforting cheese lasagna. This hearty dish is what I crave on a cold winter night. Mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheese come together to add a creamy texture and classic flavors to a wonderful recipe that can easily turned into a family favorite.
A very important part of this lasagna is the marinara sauce.  I have an easy-to-make recipe that you can make ahead of time in small or big batches and freeze. I always like to make extra because a good marinara sauce always comes in handy. It’s one of those “pantry” essentials you must have.
P.S. Whoever told you cheese lasagna was fattening, was telling you the truth but that’s beside the point. So go make this wonderful dish and make people happy!
For the Marinara Sauce:
1/3 cup EVOO
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
8 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
2 28-oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup of water
In a large heavy bottom sauce pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, celery, carrots and crushed garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and water. Mix well, cover and let it simmer over low heat for 1 hour (Stir the sauce once in awhile to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom.) Discard the bay leaf, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
For the Lasagna:
24oz whole milk ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped + more to serve
1 large egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
15 pieces of dried lasagna noodles, cooked (Don’t cook the noodles all the way, 
undercook for 2 minutes.)
Marinara sauce, room temperature
8 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish, top with 4 lasagna noodles and 1 across if the noodles are not long enough (it’s ok to overlap a little.) Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella. Top the cheese with 5 more noodles, then cover the noodles with more marinara sauce and spread the remaining ricotta mixture and 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Top the cheese with the last 5 noodles and add more marinara sauce, 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and the 8 slices of fresh mozzarella. Bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving (lasagna pieces holds better when they are not too hot.) Sprinkle more chopped parsley to serve.
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