Box top roasted garlic lasagna is such a lovely way to make a dinner or two in advance, particularly around the busy holiday season. My husband, Clayton, has been making this box top roasted garlic lasagna for many years now: the box top refers to the recipe he discovered on a box of lasagna noodles when he was a young man and watching his grandmother make a very different lasagna recipe (ground beef, tomato sauce, and no ricotta cheese). Clay decided the box top recipe sounded better and has been making it ever since.I’ve come to lasagna later in life. I recall my grandmother making lasagna as well, and am pretty sure she used ground beef, adding dried spices, like garlic and onion powder, as well as fennel seeds. When I was growing up, fennel seeds were an off-putting flavor for me, and I hated the texture of ground beef, so this definitely wasn’t a favorite dish. It’s funny how tastes change as we get older, though, as I now love the taste of fennel, particularly in Italian sausage. I’m still not a fan of the texture of ground beef, though. Of course, using home made tomato sauce has been a game changer for me for all kinds of pasta with tomato sauce recipes, including the box top roasted garlic lasagna. I love the way that tomatoes essentially hold their flavor when they are home canned. My tomato sauce always gives me hope when I start lamenting that we aren’t ever going to see the sun again.
Clayton made these lasagnas on Christmas. The intention was to have lasagna on Christmas and then finish off the leftovers the day after, which worked out really well. It also gave me a nice break from the whirlwind of cooking I’ve been doing. So far the list of winter break cooking has been chicken tikka masala, garlic naan (twice), marshmallows, biscotti, chocolate croissants, almond paste, almond croissants, French dip (including homemade Hoagie rolls), Meyer lemon jam, and fruit salad. This might have been why lasagna for two nights suddenly sounded really good when we were doing our menu planning.
The recipe takes a bit of prep time, but is fairly simple to assemble. I usually roast the garlic the day before, which give the garlic plenty of time to cool and makes it easy to pop out of the garlic peels. To make it a complete meal, serve it with a green salad and a few slices of garlic bread.
- 1 box dried lasagna noodles
- ½ package of a ball of mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin slices
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic head, roasted*
- 1 pound of Italian sausage (frozen works fine in this recipe)
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes (I used 2 16 ounce jars from my canning stash)
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 15 ounce tub of ricotta cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- A few grinds of black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Start by making the sauce. In a saucepan, sauté the diced onions in the olive oil and butter until they are slightly browned. Add in the diced tomatoes, roasted garlic, sausage, Italian seasonings, red wine and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for an hour. At the end of an hour, if the sausage is still very chunky, you can use an immersion blender to break up the sausage into smaller pieces. Add the cornstarch to thicken the sauce and stir thoroughly.
- About 50 minutes into the sauce simmering, boil water for the lasagna noodles in a large pot. When the water boils, add the lasagna noodles and cook for 6 minutes. The noodles will be al dente, but will cook more while the lasagna bakes. Drain the noodles.
- Prepare the cheese layer by combining the ricotta cheese, ½ cup of the parmesan cheese, ¼ cup of grated mozzarella, Italian seasonings and black pepper in a bowl.
- I used two 9 x 7 inch glass pans for the lasagnas. These have the advantage of having lids, so they are great for freezing leftovers.
- Prepare the first pan. Ladle about a ½ cup of sauce as the base. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking during baking. Layer a single layer of noodles next. Ladle another ½ cup of sauce. Layer another single layer of noodles. Dollops half the cheese mixture next and then spread it gently over the noodles. Layer another single layer of noodles. Ladle another ½ cup of sauce, and then another single layer of noodles and then a final ½ cup of sauce. Finish by layer half of the sliced mozzarella cheese over the top and sprinkle ¼ cup of the remaining parmesan cheese on top of that.
- Use the remaining ingredients to assemble the second lasagna.
- If you are baking one or more of the lasagnas right away, bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.
- If you are freezing, do not bake. Leave the lasagna to cool and then cover and freeze. Bake as instructed below when you are ready to cook your lasagna.
- Frozen lasagnas will take closer to an hour at 350 degrees. If the cheese or noodles start to brown, cover with foil and finish baking.
- *To roast garlic, cut the top 1/8th or so off a head of garlic, exposing the garlic cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the garlic and wrap it up in foil. Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. Let cool – this can be refrigerated overnight for easy peeling the next day.
This post is linked to the Saucy Saturday #75 Linky Party. For more wonderful holiday recipes, check out the hosts’ sites: