1 Onion, diced
1.2 tsp. Baking Soda + 1 tbsp. Water, mixed to a slurry
1 lb. Ground Beef
2 tbsp. Tomato Paste
1 28-oz. Can Diced Tomatoes, and their juices
1 15-oz. Can Tomato Puree
Fresh Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano Springs
2-3 Bay Leaves
Optional Sauce Mix-ins
1-2 tbsp. Shopped Calabrian Chiles
1-2 tbsp. Olive Tapenade
Flat, No-Boil Lasagne Noodles
10 oz. Ricotta Cheese
24 oz. Grated Mozzarella Cheese (can also include a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella)
Fresh Pesto and Parmesan
Before we start on the meat sauce, mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water. Pour this mixture over the raw ground beef and toss the meat to coat. Set aside while we sauté the onion.
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the diced in onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until the onions are transparent and get a little browning. Add the ground beef to the pot and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks.Season the ground beef with 2 teaspoons or so of kosher salt. Once browned, scoot the beef and onions to the sides of the pot and add the tomato paste to the center. Stir and sauté the tomato paste until it turns a dark rust color. Then mix the tomato paste into the beef and onions.
Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, along with the tomato puree. Toss in a bundle of fresh herbs and the bay leaves. Stir and season with another pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a low boil and cover. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Then uncover and continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes, to let the sauce reduce and thicken slightly. When you switch to uncovered simmering, if you like, stir in the olive tapenade and the Calabrian Chiles. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Remove the bundle of herbs and fish out the bay leaves. Cut the heat. Stir together the egg and the ricotta cheese. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Build the Lasagna
In a 12×9-inch casserole dish, start with a layer of meat sauce. Then noodles. Spread about half of the ricotta and egg mixture over the noodles and top with about ⅓ of the grated mozzarella. Lay another layer of noodles on the cheese, in the opposite direction of the last layer of noodles. Continue layering with meat sauce, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella until you’ve used all the meat sauce.
When you’ve laid the last layer of noodles, top with more mozzarella and pesto (if using) top the pesto with grated cheddar (or more mozzarella) and fresh grated parmesan.
Bake the lasagna covered for about 15 minutes. Then uncover and continue baking for another 40-50 minutes, until the insides are bubbling, and the cheese on top is melted and browning.
Let the lasagna rest for 30-40 minutes before slicing and serving.