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Kristine's lazy lasagna

Meat Sauce:
1 24-26-oz. jar of good quality marinara sauce
2 cups good beef stock, preferably homemade
½ lb. ground pork
½ lb. ground lean beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ lb. mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic
1 cup dry red wine
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, any other favorites)
 

Lasagna:
4 cups meat sauce
1 bag (1 lb.) chopped spinach, frozen
1 large container (32 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch ground nutmeg
½ lb. fusilli pasta, cooked, drained
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 eggs
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
 

Prepare sauce:

Pour the marinara sauce and beef stock into a large soup pot and turn heat to low. Lightly brown the ground pork and beef together in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Break apart large pieces until most are the size of almonds or smaller. Add browned meat to sauce in soup pot and discard all but two tablespoons of fat in sauté pan. Add onion to pan and sauté over medium-high heat until it begins to turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Continue to sauté until the mushroom liquid is gone and they are lightly browned. Add the garlic to the mushroom mixture and sauté one minute longer. Add the red wine to the mixture and cook until slightly reduced. Add mushroom mixture to the warmed marina sauce and cover with a lid. Simmer gently for about an hour and a half. Add the fresh herbs to the sauce when it is finished cooking. Set sauce aside till needed. (This sauce can be made a few days in advance; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

 

Prepare filling:

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the frozen spinach in the water for three or four minutes or until tender. Pour spinach into a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. When cool enough to handle, squeeze spinach by the handful to remove as much water as possible. Place all the spinach in a large mixing bowl once it has been squeezed and fluff it up with your fingers. Add the ricotta cheese, the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and the nutmeg. Next, add the chopped basil and the eggs. Mix these ingredients together until evenly blended, then add the cooked pasta. Mix ingredients together carefully so as to not break pasta apart. Mix together gently one more time until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
 

Put the lasagna together and bake:

Use a large deep rectangular baking pan (9 x 13 is good). Spread two cups of sauce (or more) to generously cover the bottom of the baking pan. Distribute the pasta filling mixture in large spoonfuls all over the sauce in the baking pan. Spread the filling out over the pan so that it is one thick layer. Use your hands or a spoon to carefully pat filling down. Add more filling where needed till all of it is in the pan. Cover filling with 2 cups remaining sauce (or more), spreading it evenly over top of lasagna. Sprinkle top of lasagna with grated mozzarella and jack cheeses and pat down lightly. Cover lasagna with foil and bake for approximately on hour at 350 degrees F or until bubbly. Remove foil and bake a few minutes more for lightly browned top, if desired. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.

Pair with Schug Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

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