I grew up in the 80s, when cartoons came on Saturday morning.  Despite the commercials, it felt like an endless four-hour block of my favorite cartoons – Muppet Babies, The Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Jetsons, Duck Tales, and, last but not least, Garfield and Friends.  My mother used this cartoon overload to maximize her to-do list, since her children were glued to the television.  

Of these prized Saturday morning cartoons, Garfield and Friends was one of my favorites.  Perhaps it was the dry, sarcastic wit of the large orange cat or the fact that his favorite food was lasagna.  Whatever the appeal of Garfield was for me, it must be genetic because my son loves the updated Garfield cartoons on Netflix.  

For me, the Italian American classic weeknight dinner staple is inevitably intertwined with an orange cartoon cat.  Perhaps the manufacturers behind Stouffers frozen lasagna had invested in the constant lasagna feeding frenzy present within nearly every Garfield episode in the late 1980s.  If they weren’t behind all the direct consumer marketing, then they should have been because I requested lasagna more than my brother requested canned spinach (thanks Popeye).  

The lasagna of my childhood was mostly noodles with marina and a small amount of cheese and meat sprinkled inadvertently throughout the layers upon layers of noodle.  

This recipe is the lasagna of my son’s childhood.  Heavy on the meat and cheese.  Light on the noodle.  Inevitably when Garfield appears on our TV, so does my son’s request for lasagna.  Lucky for me this recipe is easy to make in bulk and freeze in individual servings to have on hand.  He loves this lasanga and I hope you do too. 

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  • Author: Christina
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


This recipe is the lasagna of my son’s childhood.  Heavy on the meat and cheese.  Light on the noodle.  


Units Scale
  • 1pound mild Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 5 cups + 1 1/2 cups marinara (or favorite tomato sauce)
  • 15ounce ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups + 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make the meat sauce: In a large pot or dutch oven, add the Italian sausage and ground beef.  Using a wooden spoon, crumble into bits.  Heat over medium heat.  When the meat is halfway cooked, add the Italian seasoning.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until meat is fully cooked.  Using a slotted spoon or colander, strain the meat (discarding grease).   Add cooked meat to 5 cups marinara.  Set aside.
  3. Make the ricotta sauce:  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, milk, basil, parsley, salt (about ½ tsp kosher salt), and pepper (about ¼ tsp).  Stir to combine.  Set aside.
  4. Assemble the lasagna: Spoon about 1 cup marinara on the bottom of a lasagna pan, enough to form a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.  Cover with a layer of noodles.  Top noodles with meat sauce.  Top meat sauce with ricotta sauce.  Top ricotta sauce with mozzarella.  Repeat starting with the noodles, meat sauce, ricotta sauce, mozzarella.  Once you top the final layer with noodles, add the remaining marinara and cover with 1 cup shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Loosely cover with aluminum foil (don’t let the foil touch the top or the cheese will stick to it) and bake for 60 minutes. If you like crunchy cheese on the top, cook an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered.  Enjoy immediately or let sit overnight in the refrigerator to set before cutting into individual pieces to freeze.


This is easy to make in bulk and freeze.

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italianish

Keywords: lasagna, italiani, Italian american

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