Meat Sauce and Ricotta Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna With Fresh Ricotta

The Spruce

Ratings (16)
  • Total: 115 mins
  • Prep: 75 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 1 Lasagna (6 to 8 Servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
986 Calories
49g Fat
65g Carbs
71g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 Lasagna (6 to 8 Servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 986
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 49g 63%
Saturated Fat 21g 107%
Cholesterol 204mg 68%
Sodium 1476mg 64%
Total Carbohydrate 65g 24%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Protein 71g
Calcium 639mg 49%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Adding ricotta to lasagna is popular in the United States and it stems from a Southern Italy. This tradition reaches its apex with the elaborate lasagne con la ricotta which is enjoyed often, especially during Carnival time in Naples.  It is a distinctly different approach than the lasagna preferred in Tuscany and other northern areas of the country. 

Immigrant families from Southern Italy brought ricotta lasagna with them when they arrived in the New World. This recipe is one of those Italian-American variations.

The recipe is unique in that a whole pork shoulder is used in making the tomato-based meat sauce. However, it is removed before assembling the lasagna and served as a second course. This means you get both a primo (pasta first course) and secondo (meat second course) out of one recipe!

Katie Copuzelo in "Preserving Our Italian Heritage"

Ingredients

  • For the Meat Sauce:
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound/450 grams pork shoulder
  • Fine sea salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 pounds/600 grams ground beef
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato purée
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Optional: 3 tablespoons sugar (white)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • For the Filling:
  • 2 pounds/900 grams ricotta cheese (fresh, preferably high-quality without stabilizers)
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (freshly grated)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (flat-leaf, chopped)
  • Fine sea salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
  • For the Lasagna:
  • 1 pound/450 grams lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 pound/225 grams mozzarella (firm, sliced)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this lasagna recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Make the Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a pot, heat the oil. Add the pork, season it with salt and pepper, and brown the meat thoroughly on all sides.

    Browning pork.
     The Spruce
  3. Remove the meat to a platter, leaving the drippings in the pot.

    Browned pork for red sauce.
     The Spruce
  4. Add the onion, garlic, and ground beef.

    Ground beef for red sauce.
     The Spruce
  5. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and cook until the beef is browned.

    Beef and onions for red sauce.
     The Spruce
  6. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, and water, as well as the sugar and baking soda (if you're using those).

    Making red sauce for lasagna.
     The Spruce
  7. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.

    Simmering red sauce.
     The Spruce
  8. Add the pork. 

    Pork in red sauce for lasagna.
     The Spruce
  9. Continue simmering for 1 hour, or until the pork is fork-tender.

    Simmering red sauce.
     The Spruce
  10. Prepare the filling.

Prepare the Filling

  1. Combine the ricotta with the grated Parmigiano cheese and parsley.

    Lasagna filling mixture.
     The Spruce
  2. Season the mixture to taste with salt and black pepper, and set it aside.

Assemble the Lasagna

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C).

  2. Boil the lasagna, a few sheets at a time, in lightly salted water until they are al dente.

    Boiling lasagna pasta sheets.
     The Spruce
  3. Remove them with a strainer and drain.

    Cooked lasagna sheets.
     The Spruce
  4. Remove the pork from the sauce and set it aside.

    Pork for lasagna.
     The Spruce
  5. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with 1/2 cup of the sauce.

  6. Put down a layer of pasta.

  7. Then a layer of ricotta.

    Lasagna layers.
     The Spruce
  8. Continue alternating the pasta with sauce and ricotta.

    Layering lasagna.
     The Spruce
  9. Cover the last layer of pasta with sauce and then the mozzarella slices.

    Mozarella topped lasagna.
     The Spruce
  10. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the mozzarella on top is melted, bubbly, and somewhat browned.

    Homemade lasagna with meat sauce.
     The Spruce
  11. Serve the lasagna as the first course and the pork as a second course.

Recipe Variations

  • You can also make tiny meatballs, drop them in the sauce, and layer them in the lasagna.

Recipe Courtesy: Katie Copuzelo from "Preserving Our Italian Heritage," assembled by Rose Marie Boniello for the Grand Lodge of Florida, Order Sons of Italy. Reprinted with permission.