This is another recipe from Uncle Joe's family that we've modified throughout the years. This lasagna was a traditional Italian recipe. My paternal grandmother (Yia-Yia here) once suggested to my mom that she add cinnamon & egg to the ricotta. To me, lasagna still tastes like it's missing something without the cinnamon.


lasagna noodles
15 oz
1–1.5 tsp
ground cinnamon
garlic clove (minced)
1–2 tbsp
olive oil
½ lb
ground meat
beef, lamb, pork, veal, or some combination
1 oz
diced celery
1 oz
diced onion
1 oz
diced bell pepper
8 oz
shredded mozzarella
Red Sauce
32 oz
canned tomatoes
1 c
beef stock
to taste
red pepper flakes


  1. Create a simple red sauce:
    1. In a blender, combine canned tomatoes (32 oz) & stock (1 c), and blend until uniform.
    2. Transfer the mixture to a skillet or sauce pan, and heat at medium-low.
    3. Add salt, pepper, & other spices (to taste).
      It's probably more salt than you think is enough, but remember that it will taste saltier as the sauce thickens.
    4. While you prepare the rest of the meal, let the sauce to simmer until it reaches your desired thickness, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  2. Prepare the meat:
    1. In a separate skill, heat olive oil (1–2 tbsp) over medium heat.
    2. Add any combination of the celery, bell pepper, & onion (~1 oz each).
    3. Add salt & pepper (to taste).
    4. Add the ground meat (½ lb), breaking apart and cooking until brown.
    5. Drain any grease from the meat, and set it aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  4. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package.
  5. Create the ricotta mix by using a fork to mix together:
    • ricotta (15 oz)
    • egg (1)
    • cinnamon (1–1.5 tsp)
    • garlic (2 cloves)
  6. Layer the 9x9 pan in this order:
    1. thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking
    2. 3 noodles
    3. mozzarella (3 oz)
    4. ricotta mix
    5. 3 noodles
    6. mozzarella (2.5 oz)
    7. meat
    8. sauce (½ of total)
    9. 3 noodles
    10. mozzarella (2.5 oz)
    11. remaining sauce
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Let the lasagna cool for 15–20 minutes before serving.

About this recipe

  • Makes enough for about 4 people.
  • The red sauce will take at least an hour to simmer to a reasonable thickness. I usually plan for two hours. If you're really old school, you're making about a gallon of it, and you start it after church to simmer all day until Sunday dinner.
  • The sauce can obviously get more complicated (adding garlic & onion, substituting spices, other fats), but I like a simple sauce for this recipe to let the ricotta mix stand out. For me, that's the defining flavor of this dish.
  • If using pork, be aware that it tends to overpower other flavors. Adjust the balance of meats if you don't want that to be the dominant flavor. Maybe 30% instead of 50%.