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A pan of meatball lasagna with fresh parsley and a cheese grate with a slab of Parmesan.
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Meatball Lasagna

Comfort food lovers, meet your new favorite dish! With its layers of tender meatballs, gooey mozzarella and creamy ricotta tucked in between delicate pasta noodles, this meatball lasagna is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. For one unforgettable meal, gather good company and serve this meatball lasagna with a loaf of crusty garlic bread and a bottle of chianti.
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 750kcal

Ingredients

Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves minced or grated
  • 1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste
  • ½ cup chianti optional
  • 3-4 (28-ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes see notes
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 4 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil

Italian Meatballs

  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs torn from white sandwich bread, no crust (see note)
  • 1 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 garlic cloves minced or grated
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan using the small holes of a box grater
  • 1 cup grated onion using the large holes of a box grater
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste optional
  • 1 pound ground beef preferably 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat
  • 1 pound ground pork

Meatball Lasagna

  • 1 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • 30 ounces ricotta
  • 3 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg preferably freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 cups shredded mozzarella see note
  • 6 cups crumbled meatballs
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish, optional

Instructions

Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • Before starting on our meatballs, we make our sauce, so it can get a head start simmering. Heat olive or canola oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft, about five to eight minutes. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and chianti. Cook until the chianti is nearly fully reduced.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes with the juice. Tie the thyme, rosemary and oregano together with kitchen twine. Add the bundled herbs with bay leaves and stir in salt and pepper. Mostly cover, leaving a crack open, and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and keep the heat as low as possible to maintain a simmer.

Italian Meatballs

  • Now we start on the meatballs. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs and heavy cream or milk. Allow the bread crumbs to soak as you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the garlic cloves, Parmesan, onion, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and anchovy paste if using. Drain the bread crumbs in a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in the bread crumbs.
  • Add the ground beef and pork. Using a gentle touch, stir with a wooden spoon to form one cohesive mixture. You could even use your hands to mix the ingredients together. Mix just until combined.
  • Lightly oil your hands and form into balls slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Drop directly into the simmering sauce. Simmer on low to medium-low heat until cooked through, about two to three hours, stirring occasionally. Try to be as gentle as possible when stirring. Alternatively, you could bake the meatballs in a 450-degree oven for 15 minutes or fry in a skillet before simmering. For more details on those instructions, see notes for link.
  • After simmering, stir in the freshly chopped basil, remove the other herbs and turn off heat.

For Meatball Lasagna

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Using tongs, remove each lasagna noodle and place on lightly greased parchment paper. This prevents the noodles from clumping together.
  • Mix together ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, basil and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Spread ½ cup tomato sauce from meatballs on bottom of a greased lasagna pan or a deep-dish 9-inch-by-13-inch-by-3-inch pan. Place noodles on top to cover the bottom of the pan. If necessary, you can cut a noodle to fill a small space if they don't span over the entire pan. Spread ½ of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles and then 1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella. Top with 2 cups crumbled meatballs and 1 cup sauce. Place another layer of lasagna noodles on top. Repeat the ricotta, mozzarella, meatball and sauce filling. Place another layer of  lasagna noodles on top. This is the final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread 2 cups of crumbled meatballs on that final noodle layer and 2 cups of sauce on top of the meatballs. Make sure the noodles are fully covered in sauce. Top the meatballs and sauce with 2 cups shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil, trying not to let the foil touch the cheese.
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit in room temperature for 15-20 minutes. This step is crucial to allow the filling to set, so don't skip it. Once the lasagna sits and the filling sets, cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don't have time to make the tomato sauce and meatballs from scratch, you can substitute store-bought sauce and meatballs.
  • Do not use the fresh mozzarella stored in water. It's too wet and can make lasagna soupy. Just get a block of mozzarella and shred it. Shredding it yourself is better than buying a bag of shredded mozzarella because it melts better.
  • Do not use canned Parmesan. It doesn't melt properly and will leave you with a grainy texture.
  • Visit my original post for more details on how to make Italian meatballs.
  • Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 750kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 40g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 2.487mg | Sugar: 18g