Upside Down Lasagna
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Upside Down Lasagna is a mouthwatering main course that’s baked in a pot and turned upside down to serve. Packed with layers of meaty lasagna flavors, it’s ready in half the time of traditional recipes!
The secret behind this Party Lasagna is that the creamy and rich meat sauce is wrapped in lasagna noodles so that the gooey cheese stays perfectly inside. It looks gorgeous just like a cake, and can be sliced easily! No wonder one of our readers said: “I’m Italian and usually think these variations are sacrilegious, but this looks amazing!” And truth be told, it’s the best darn lasagna ever!
Party Lasagna is one of my favorite dinner recipes along with Philly Cheesecake Sloppy Joes, Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Party Sloppy Joes, Taco Pasta and Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.
How to Make the Best Upside Down Party Lasagna
Preheat oven to 375° F, and set aside a 4-quart Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Spread with olive oil. This will prevent the lasagna noodles from sticking to the pot.
Step 1: Prepare Lasagna Noodles:
The regular dried Lasagna noodles or sheets work best for this recipe. There is a little secret to preparing your lasagna sheet in order get the best texture: Don’t boil them! Instead, pour hot water over them in a pot and let them soak for about 30 minutes until they are tender. They are not cooked at this point, but will finish cooking in the oven. When they are ready, drain the water and cover them in a bit of oil so they don’t stick.
Note: DO NOT use no-boil noodles for this recipe.
Step 2: Make Lasagna Sauce:
While the noodles are soaking, you can start making the lasagna sauce by browning ground beef using a cast iron or non-stick pan. Add in chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until beef is browned and breaks into small crumbles. Drain the grease and add in tomato sauce. Bring it to boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally and cook until it’s nice and thick. Remove from heat. The taste and consistency of the sauce are almost like Bolognese sauce.
Note: 1) If you use the ground beef that’s leaner than 90% (90/10 meat to fat ratio), you won’t need to drain the fat. 2) It’s optional to add small amount of sugar and tomato paste if you like the slightly sweet flavor.
Step 3: Make Cheese Mix:
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, parmesan and eggs into a paste.
Step 4: Assemble and Bake the Lasagna:
Lay 12-15 noodles into the Dutch oven or pot according to the video or the photo below (coat the pot with olive oil beforehand).Add 1/2 of mozzarella and spread evenly. Then add 1/3 of meat mixture on top of mozzarella. Then slice 6 noodles in half widthwise and use 2 halves you cut to create a layer. Spread 1/2 of cheese mixture, followed by 1/3 of meat mixture and remaining mozzarella, saving just a large pinch. Repeat the layers and finish with the remaining meat mixture. Fold in the lasagna noodles to the center following the video (Trim sheets to fit if needed).
Add the last pinch of mozzarella on top of the pasta. Only sprinkle the middle part. (Important: don’t let them go down the sides or the lasagna will stick to the pan).
Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil (not touching noodles or cheese). Bake for 25 minutes and then bake another 20 minutes uncovered until the cheese is golden. Remove from the oven to cool 15-20 minutes before serving.
Note: 1) Make sure to rub inside of pot with oil to prevent the noodles from sticking to the pot. 2)Let your baked lasagna sit for about 15-20 minutes before flipping or cutting, otherwise, it can fall apart easily.
How to Serve Upside Down Lasagna
Invert the lasagna cake onto a large serving plate. Sprinkle with parmesan and optional basil. Cut them into pieces. You can serve it with salad and garlic bread.
For the lasagna sauce, I let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes and enable the flavor to develop. If you are short of time and your sauce is still watery, one trick is to add cornstarch and water mix to thicken it (1 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoon cold water).
Make Ahead Tips
Lasagna is a perfect recipe to make ahead and it freezes well. You can make it (except the baking process) in advance up to 24 hours. Store it in the refrigerator. Just bring it to the room temperature before you bake it.
If you want to freeze it, you need to finish the whole process including baking. Let it cool and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost before heating.
Watch Now: How to Make Upside Down Lasagna
Upside Down Lasagna
- 1 1/2 lb lasagna noodles, cooked
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella
- basil, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside a 4-quart saucepan that's oven-safe (no plastic handles).
- Soak lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
- Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and then ground beef. Stir and cook several minutes until it starts to brown.
- Drain off excess fat, and add in oil, onions, and garlic. Stir and cook until the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomato sauce and cook several minutes until thick enough to form mounds, and remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan and egg, mixing until smooth.
- By now your noodles should be ready. Drain them and toss in oil to prevent sticking. Slice 6 noodles in half widthwise and set aside.
- Rub inside of pan with oil and lay 12-15 noodles according to the video.
- Add 1/2 of mozzarella, then spread on 1/3 of meat mixture. Then add 2 noodle halves you cut to create a layer.
- Spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture, followed by 1/3 of meat mixture and remaining mozzarella, saving just a large pinch. Add 2 more noodle halves.
- This is the home stretch: add remaining ricotta and then remaining meat. Fold in the lasagna noodles to the center following the video.
- Add the last pinch of mozzarella to the middle only (important: don't let them go down the sides or the lasagna will stick to the pan).
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cheese is golden. Remove from the oven to cool 10 minutes.
- Invert the lasagna cake onto a large serving plate. Sprinkle with parmesan and optional basil. Serve and enjoy!
Please read our nutrition disclaimer.
Special Key Ingredients for the Best Lasagna
Ground Beef: If you use regular ground beef (fatter than 90% lean beef), you would need to strain out the fat after you brown the beef. You can also use a mix of pork and beef (1:2 ratio is ideal between pork and beef)
Lasagna Sheets: I prefer regular dried lasagna sheets, but you can also use fresh lasagna pasta. Avoid no-boil lasagna noodles for this recipe. I used Barilla brand.
Ricotta Cheese: It adds great flavor to the lasagna, but you can also substitute cottage cheese.
Tomato Sauce: The taste and liquid level of tomato sauce vary depending on the brand you use. If your tomato sauce doesn’t have much liquid, you can add tomato paste to increase the tomato flavor and avoid adding water.
Sugar: If your tomato sauce is too sour, you can add sugar to balance out the flavor.
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Editor Note: Post updated on 3/26/2018 with additional information.
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