Recipe Review

Martha Stewart’s Lasagna Features a Brilliant Time-Saving Trick

published Oct 26, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell | Design: The Kitchn

The lasagna I grew up eating was made from the recipe on the back of the pasta box. It was a simple affair featuring layers of noodles, meat sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella. My mom always used jarred sauce that she added ground beef to, and the ricotta was the grainy, part-skim kind found in giant tubs at the grocery store. It was hardly fancy, but I loved it.

When I came across Martha Stewart’s lasagna recipe, I was instantly reminded of my childhood favorite. While her recipe, in true Martha form, features a homemade meat sauce and freshly grated cheese, it’s got all the elements I crave in a homey lasagna. I had high hopes it would be a nostalgic treat and with the from-scratch touches, be a better version of my mom’s. Here’s how it went.

Get the recipe: Martha Stewart’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell | Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Martha Stewart’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce

You’ll start by tackling the homemade meat sauce. Ground beef, sausage, onions, carrots, and celery are cooked in a pot before garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, tomato pasta, and puréed tomatoes are added. The mixture is simmered for 15 minutes and then you’ll remove it from the heat.

Next, you’ll combine ricotta, milk, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and chopped fresh parsley in a bowl. Then, you’ll begin assembling the lasagna by spreading some of the meat sauce into a 9×13-inch baking dish, topping it with three uncooked dry lasagna noodles, some of the ricotta mixture, and another layer of uncooked noodles. You’ll add another layer of sauce and repeat this layering process twice more, ending with the last of the meat sauce. More mozzarella and Parmesan are sprinkled on top, then the lasagna is covered with foil and baked until the noodles can easily be pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. The lasagna is then uncovered and baked until golden-brown, about 20 minutes more.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

My Honest Review of Martha Stewart’s Lasagna Recipe

The brilliance of Martha’s lasagna recipe is you don’t have to bother cooking the lasagna noodles ahead of time. They’re layered into the dish dry and the moisture from the sauce cooks them in the oven. It’s the same trick I use in my lasagna recipe here at Kitchn, so it’s one I fully support. If you’re looking for the easiest, most fuss-free lasagna recipe, this is a technique worth leaning into. It’s also delicious and, as expected, tastes a whole lot like the one I grew up eating, with layers of meat sauce made with ground beef and just the right amount of cheese.

Since the noodles aren’t cooked, this lasagna does need more time in the oven than others. Personally, I don’t mind that because it’s hands-off time and I really, really hate having to dirty an extra pot to pre-boil the noodles. It’s also worth nothing that because the noodles are cooked in the sauce and cheese, some of their starch will release into the casserole, making for a bit of a denser, heavier lasagna (although truthfully, you might not notice it, and it really doesn’t bother me). Where this recipe loses just a few points is the fact that if you’re not careful in covering every bit of the noodles with sauce and cheese, some corners could be left crunchy and not fully cooked.

If You’re Making Martha Stewart’s Lasagna Recipe, a Few Tips

  1. Reach for cans of puréed or crushed tomatoes to save time. Martha calls for puréeing cans of whole peeled tomatoes to make the sauce. It’s easy enough to do, but if you don’t want to pull out the blender, just use 2 (28-ounce) cans of tomato purée or crushed tomatoes.
  2. Season the ricotta mixture to taste. The recipe states to add 1 teaspoon salt to the mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. This was a bit too much for my taste, seeing as the meat sauce was well-seasoned and the cheeses are already salty. I’d start with 1/2 teaspoon, leaving out the eggs at first so you can taste the mixture, adjust to your taste, then mix in the eggs.
  3. Be sure to cover the lasagna noodles completely. As I mentioned, since the noodles are cooked in the oven with the moisture from the sauce, they need to be completely covered. It’s easy to miss an edge or corner but that can result in a crunchy, uncooked bite, so be sure to diligently layer the sauce and cheese on top of the noodles.

Rating: 8/10

Have you ever made Martha Stewart’s lasagna recipe? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell | Design: The Kitchn