This is a weekend-friendly vintage recipe. Components of the recipe can be made days ahead and then assembled the day it needs to be cooked. The ideal of using meatballs to make lasagna, I felt was an interesting twist. I opted to add dried apricots to give the ground pork a bit more texture and sweetness. Don’t get me wrong, making a traditional béchamel cheese sauce as a layer to a lasagna is always delicious, but the vegetable filling in this recipe is equally delicious. The artichoke and peas with the melted mozzarella, is just pure perfection and a nice complement to the meatballs. I used 15 noodles. Each layer took 5 noodles.
15 Lasagna sheets, cooked
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 (28 ounces can) whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
15 ounces Ricotta
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
2 cups mozzarella, grated
Salt and pepper
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup pecorino, grated
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried apricots, minced (optional)
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan for topping
Yields: serving for 6
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cook the noodles as instructed on the packing.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and fry until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes, and with the back of a spoon, break them up a bit. Add the salt, pepper and the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Place the mixture in a bowl, and, with a hand emulsifier, puree the mixture. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use. Can be made 2 days in advance.
For the vegetable filling, place the ricotta in a bowl. Add the peas, artichoke, mozzarella and the salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat oven 400°F.
For the meatballs, place the ground pork in a bowl. Add the eggs, salt and pepper, pecorino, flour and the apricots if using. Mix well, and form into walnut size balls. Set the meatballs on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
To assemble: in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, place 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Top with the cooked noodles. Add another layer of tomato sauce. Top with the vegetable mixture. Add a noodle layer, followed with tomato sauce. Add the meatballs. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remainder of the tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, add the grated parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes more. Serve warm with a salad.