Viva Italia!

Like Alex Guarnaschelli, I didn’t grown up with an Italian grandma to learn recipes from; but unlike Alex, I don’t have an Italian grandma at all. I’m not sure there’s even Italian anywhere in my family… I did however grow up with an affinity for Italian food. Olive Garden was my jam when I was a little girl. Today, my tastes run more a little more sophisticated than Olive Garden, but the affection remains undiminished.

Recently, we tried Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe for her “Grandma Guarnaschelli’s Lasagna with Mini Beef Meatballs” from her book The Home Cook. The Mr had been craving some authentic lasagna and I had never even heard about meatballs in lasagna! Something told me none of this dish would be wasted.

This lasagna isn’t like anything I’ve had or made before. Usually recipes call for mixing eggs with cheeses and/or various herbs or seasonings to layer with noodles and red sauce. This recipe layers sauce, noodles, meatballs, and cheeses all individually. Honestly, it was neither more difficult nor easier.

The good: It was cheesy (mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and delicious like any good lasagna should be. The meatballs add substance and spice. And, as I suspected, none went to waste. The recipe really hit my garlic guilty pleasure spot! I usually double (sometimes tempted to triple) the garlic called for in any recipe because I really like the sharp tang it gives, but this recipe was just right. It called for so much garlic everywhere that no one was complaining about lack of flavor!

The not-so-good: Too much olive oil was called for in the red sauce in my opinion. The onion seemed like it was swimming in olive oil. We also felt that there was not enough red sauce in general. It was good, but we were left wanting more sauce. The meatballs were good, but felt awkward when trying to layer them into the whole dish. This also made it rather difficult to get a “pretty”, IG-worthy pic.

This authentic, rustic dish satisfied our Italian craving. With the variety of lasagna out there, what is your favorite kind?

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