Sometimes I think of a recipe and it won’t leave my mind. It’s in my mind all day. While I’m driving to work, I’m thinking about my grocery list. During lunch, I’m dreaming of dinner. At the gym, I’m trying to burn extra calories because I know what I’ll be eating later. Seriously, I think I have a one track mind for food.
I’m not sure what the weather temperatures are like in other cities, but in Chicago, last Thursday night it dropped 20 degrees in less than 2 hours. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of 70 degree days until 2013. Kind of sad, but I think I’ll get over it. I’m ready for comfort food which warms me up and hugs me from the inside… things like this Cheesy Meatball Lasagna.
This is probably the 2nd time in my life I’ve made a lasagna…but I knew I wanted to do something a little different. Enter Smoked Gouda Cheese. I put it in the meatballs and layered shreds of it throughout the lasagna. I think it gave the lasagna such a O.M.G. quality. I’m thinking I might need to add Smoked Gouda to everything I make. It truly has the effect of making everything that’s already awesome even better.
My only complaint is it took sometime to put together and cook to cheesy perfection in the oven. One of my favorite things to say is, “Drink some wine to kill the time.” Trust me, I had a big pour…but I was still checking the timer every 10 minutes to see how much longer I had to wait. It was total torture.
But I was rewarded with this delicious dinner. Oh so totally worth it.
This lasagna was meaty, extra cheesy, smoky and has a deliciously easy tomato sauce with fresh basil. I’d make this dish for anyone. Well, anyone who loves meat and isn’t lactose intolerant.
So go ahead, day-dream about this lasagna and drink some wine while time stands still.. I mean while it’s cooking in the oven.
Cheesy Meatball Lasagna, inspired by Family Circle
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 traditional lasagna noodles
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 can (28 oz) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 can (28 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 bag (8 oz) shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make Meatballs. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, sausage, bread crumbs, egg, milk, and cheese. I used a medium-sized cookie/ice cream scooper to shape meatballs. You can also use your hands. Size of the meatball should be around 1 tablespoon.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook for 5 minutes, shaking pan to turn meatballs while maintaining their shape. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining meatballs. Reserve drippings in pan. (FYI – Meatballs don’t need to be cooked all the way through.)
- Meanwhile, to make Lasagna, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add noodles, 1 at a time, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- Place skillet from meatballs over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in both crushed and diced tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half the chopped basil. Set aside 3/4 cup of the sauce.
- In a medium bowl, blend ricotta, remaining basil, the egg and 2 tbsp of the Parmesan.
- Begin layering: Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9 2 inch baking dish. Top with 4 noodles, overlapping. Scatter half the meatballs over noodles. Pour half the remaining tomato sauce over meatballs. Top with 4 more noodles and spread with ricotta mixture and half of the mozzarella and smoked gouda cheese. Add remaining meatballs. Pour remaining tomato sauce over meatballs. Top with final 4 noodles. Spread with reserved 3/4 cup sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella, smoked gouda and remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.