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Grandma Guarnaschelli's Lasagna Appetizer

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 20 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 14 to 16 servings
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Ingredients

Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, minced 

8 large cloves garlic, minced 

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

Kosher salt 

Two 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes 

1 bay leaf 

Pasta:

Kosher salt

1 pound dried lasagna sheets 

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella, shredded 

1 pound Parmesan, finely grated 

1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves 

Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling 

Chopped fresh Italian parsley, for topping 

Directions

  1. For the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium pot, then add the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste, then discard the bay leaf.
  2. For the pasta: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Stir in a generous handful of salt and add the lasagna sheets. Cook, stirring so they don't stick together, until still very firm to the touch, about 4 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water. Separate the sheets carefully so they don't stick together.
  4. Spoon a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Arrange a layer of the pasta sheets over the sauce. Sprinkle some of the mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves over the pasta, then add another layer of sauce. Repeat the layering process 2 more times, ending with pasta and cheese.
  5. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, then raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees F and remove the aluminum foil. Bake until the top browns slightly, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes, then cut into squares. Drizzle with the balsamic and top with chopped parsley.