My Dad’s Famous Lasagna

Famous Lasagna Recipe

When I was a kid, my dad would ask me every year what I wanted to eat for my birthday dinner. Year after year, it was the same answer: Lasagna. My dad’s lasagna isn’t like your average lasagna, it’s filled with unexpected flavors like salty pesto, creamy ricotta, sweet sausage, and tangy tomato sauce. Fast forward to today when every time I recreate the dish, my friends and family claim it is, without a doubt, the best thing I make. And I have to agree.

This is a particularly great recipe for dinner parties because you can prep (and cook if you want) ahead of time and everyone always loves it. We had friends over last weekend and the four-year-old girl told us that she “actually” liked this lasagna which, from a kid, is pretty much the biggest compliment you can get.

So that I can eat it (I have an aversion to cow dairy), I use sheep’s milk ricotta throughout and always make one half without the grated mozzarella on top. Pamesan cheese tastes better (IMO) but if you can’t have cow dairy, you can sub in pecorino romano.

My dad swears it tastes even better if you make full-on meatballs with the sausage or ground beef and then crumble the meatballs. But I have never actually taken the time to do that. And it’s a well-known fact that this tastes even better the next day.

I am so happy to be sharing this family recipe with you guys. I hope you love it as much as we do!

My dad’s famous lasagna recipe:
Serves 6-8

– 1 large bottle of tomato sauce. I use Rao’s marinara sauce. If you’re really feeling up for it, make your own! But let’s be honest, who has the time for that?
– 1 cup of ricotta cheese
– 1 box of lasagna pasta
– 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage, out of its casing (I ask the butcher at the grocery store to remove it for me and they usually will)
– 1.5 cups of basil pesto
– 3 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
– 1 cup of pecorino romano or parmesan cheese

– Pre-heat oven to 350
– Cook pasta until tender
– While pasta is cooking, mix ricotta and pesto and set aside
– Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sautée sausage until it’s cooked through, breaking it into tiny pieces as you go.
– In a 9×12 baking dish, start layering the lasagna in the following order:
– A thick layer of tomato sauce drizzled with olive oil
– Pasta
– Meat covered lightly with tomato sauce and sprinkled with pecorino romano/parmesan cheese
– Pasta
– Pesto/ricotta mixture
– Pasta
– Cover lightly with tomato sauce, sprinkle with Mozzarella and pecorino romano/parmesan
– Cover with tin foil and cook for 30 minutes
– Uncover and cook for 10-15 more minutes until the cheese begins to bubble
– Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with extra sauce on top
– Enjoy!

Photo by Julia Dags.

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  1. Kristin said:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m almost 40 and have never made lasagna. I might give this a whirl though. Have you ever used the no boil noodles? I know a few people with killer lasagna recipes and they always use the no boil. Wasn’t sure how much of a difference it would make?

    10.16.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      In my opinion the no boil noodles aren’t as good and the texture comes off differently. But see the comment below from a reader who tried them with some success!

      10.22.19 · Reply
      • Kristin said:

        I made my first lasagna and feel like a champ! I made it a day in advance with the Barilla brand no bake noodles and this is what I found:

        1. It came out really good, however next time I will try and probably stick with regular noodles. The no bakes are very thin and I feel the regular noodles will give it a bit more bulk.

        2. With the no bake noodles I cooked it for 40 minutes. I let it cool and sit in the fridge for a day and then reheated for about 25 minutes at 325 degrees and did a low broil for about 10 minutes to brown the top a bit.

        3. It was really good. My 16 month old ate an adult size slab – she just kept going 🙂 The ricotta / pesto layer was almost a bit much for me, but I think that was more because of the no bake noodle texture. I think a thicker noodle would solve the problem.

        Thanks Julia – I love your recipes and can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

        10.27.19 · Reply
        • Julia said:

          I definitely recommend regular noodles. The no-boil ones never come out right. Try it again and report back!

          10.28.19 · Reply
  2. Danielle Weisberg said:

    I made this recipe last night with Trader Joe’s no- boil lasagna noodles and a couple tweaks. I used about 1/2 cup homemade pesto (I prob would have used 3/4 cup but I ran out of basil) and only about. 1/3 kB of sausage. I used an 8×8 pan (so I only needed 9 noodles), and baked it covered at 375 for 30 min and then 15 more min uncovered. I let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool. Delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I would have never thought to use pesto in lasagna. Great idea!

    10.21.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Sounds great! That’s the thing about this recipe is there is no right answer for amounts.

      10.22.19 · Reply
  3. Jenn said:

    Made this for my husband and 2 year old (and myself!) and it was a huge hit! Used Capello’s lasagna noodles to make it gluten free. Definitely will make again!

    10.22.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      We LOVE Capello’s. I didn’t know they made lasagna noodles. Going to look for them!

      10.22.19 · Reply
  4. Elizabeth said:

    My SIL made this Friday night. So good!

    10.27.19 · Reply
  5. Jessica said:

    I made this for Christmas dinner and it was a huge hit! Everyone asked for the recipe and I passed it along! This will become a part of Christmas dinner every year! Thanks for sharing!

    12.26.19 · Reply