Here is the homemade meatball lasagna recipe we promised.

  Italian Meatball Lasagna, not the way madre would have made it. This is as much an educational web site as it is one that turns out exceptional culinary creations that use gourmet techniques and "touches" that make these Italian recipes stand out. Flavor literally leaps out of them.

Chef Dave is a professional restaurant chef and restaurant manager, one dedicated to taking somewhat bland regular Italian traditional recipes and "jacking" them up a bit. In other words, his Italian recipes include creative innovations and renovations that turn out decidedly gourmet versions of some of your favorite Italian renditions. If you're looking for a basic lasagna recipe -- bare bones, in other words -- this may not be the one for you. However, this meatball lasagna recipe is not hard to make, requires no exotic ingredients, and does not break the bank on calories and fat. Not a Paula Deen recipe, that is for sure, but it is a gastronomic delight, and that is for sure too!. The secret is in the sauce, as is the case so often in culinary undertakings.

Do not be afraid to use different kinds of cheeses in this. Mozzarella would be good, so would Pecorino Romano. Dave has been known to substitute Feta for the ricotta.

What makes this lasagna recipe different (besides the meatballs), is the reduced tomato sauce and the sun-dried tomatoes. And if that’s not enough, we add a bit of balsamic vinegar, red wine, lemon juice and brandy into the mix, and you’ve got a lasagna with “punch”.If for some reason you don't want to use meatballs, you can use regular hamburger, shredded chicken breast, ground or shredded turkey breast, even a combination of beef and sausage.

Chef Dave could have included separate recipes for all of these, but the truth is, nothing else here needs to change for adding any appropriate meat as a base!Layering the flavors in the sauce makes it all happen in a blissful harmony. Flavor layering is a professional and gourmet method that can turn your kitchen and dining area into one of the best "restaurants" in your area. Give it a shot!

 

New Italian Recipes Presents:
Chef Dave's Meatball Lasagna

Ingredients:

Meatballs
5 slices soft bread
2 lbs. Hamburger
3 eggs
1 small onion, finely minced
1 T ground oregano
2 T finely chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup finely chopped basil
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper

 

Sauce
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
1 red bell pepper
5 cloves garlic
3 T balsamic vinegar
¾ cup red wine
½ cup sliced black olives
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup sliced, sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 T ground, toasted fennel seeds (Toast them over medium heat in a small skillet for about 8 minutes).
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
1 T lemon juice
3 T brandy (optional, but it adds a really nice layer of flavor in this!)

12 lasagna noodles, fresh made lasagna pasta, boiled, or non-boil kind
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 lb. sliced Provolone cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Meatballs
Process the bread slices in a
food processor until you have medium fine crumbs. Place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Form into small meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter. It would be a good idea to brown the meatballs separately if you have the time, before adding them to finish in the tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce
Dice onion, celery, and red bell pepper. Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a large Dutch oven or large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and red pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.

Add balsamic vinegar and red wine. Stir and let reduce by at least half.

Add olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Add two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes, one 14-ounce can diced tomatoes. Stir in basil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.

Add meatballs to sauce, cover and simmer over low heat for ½ hour. (This allows the meatballs to get done and become infused with the flavors of the tomato sauce).

Remove cover and continue to simmer slowly for another ½ hour or so. The sauce should thicken a lot in this time and this will intensify the flavor. It is so worth the effort!

Add the lemon juice and the brandy and allow to cook for about 3 minutes before removing from the heat.

Noodles
Cook the lasagna noodles if need be. Drain immediately in cold water. Arrange pieces flat in single layer on clean, dry towels until ready to use.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place a thin layer of sauce over bottom of an oil sprayed, 17.5 x 12 lasagna pan.  Add a layer of the noodles. Add about half of the remaining meatball tomato sauce, then half the ricotta cheese and half the Provolone.

Repeat.

Cover the top layer with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Then, broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned. Let the meatball lasagna rest for at least 10 minutes, or until the cheese has time to set, before cutting and serving.

Dave and his other half, the former Miss Ripa, (yes, she's a nice Italian taste tester for Dave's creations) have had so much “bland” lasagna over the years, it is a true shame. This meatball lasagna recipe is anything but, however, and that was Dave's quest. You can substitute 1 pound ground beef and one pound Italian or kielbasa sausage for the meatballs. If you do, brown them both first. The meatballs, with their ingredients, are a nice touch and taste treat, though, really a pleasant surprise to bite into. Try it!

Meatball Lasagna cries out for a bold red wine such as chianti or Borolo. Salud!

Buon appetito always!
Chef Dave

newitalianrecipes2003@comcast.net


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