Makes generous 6 servings (serving a crowd?)

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ bell pepper, chopped
  • a 28oz and a 15oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ a stick of cinnamon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1 lb bulk sausage
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 slices of bacon (see notes)
  • 10 oz frozen spinach
  • dash nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 lb mozzarella
  • 1 lb ricotta
  • 4 oz pitted black olives (Calamatas preferred), sliced in half
  • 12 oz dry lasagne noodles (12 standard noodles, but not that no-boil crap)

Special equipment

A lot of time and patience. While the recipe is simple, it requires a lot of prep time, and will make a mess of your stovetop, but you’ll find it’s it well worth it.


Start with the sauce: sauté the onion, celery, garlic and bell pepper in a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil. Add tomatoes, bay, and cinnamon stick, season with salt and pepper as desired, cover, and simmer until thickened, breaking up the tomatoes while you stir.

Preheat the oven to 350°, and bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil for the noodles while you prep the other ingredients:

Brown the ground beef on medium high heat. Season with salt, pepper, the oregano and rosemary. Drain off the grease and set aside.

Brown the sausage in another frying pan in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with the red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper to taste. Drain off the grease and set aside.

Defrost the spinach in your microwave, add a dash of nutmeg if desired, and set aside.

Chop the bacon (this’ll give you the chance to discard some of the fattier portions) and fry until not quite crisp. Drain and set aside.

Slice the mozzarella thinly. Set aside.

Noodles done? Oven ready? Now you can assemble. Grease a 13x9 inch pan with olive oil, and lay down with one layer of noodles. Everything else is up to your whim. Lessee, half the bacon, half the spinach, half the ricotta, some sauce, some olives, half the beef and a layer of noodles? Then half the sausage, half the mozzarella, rest of the spinach, some sauce, rest of the olives, noodles. What’s left? Sausage, ricotta, beef, noodles, sauce and mozzarella. Whadwemiss? Rest of the bacon? The order doesn’t matter. Start with a layer of noodles at the bottom and end with sauce and a cheese at the top, and you can’t go wrong. Bake for about 45 minutes in your 350° oven.


Recipe is very closely based on Canzoneri’s which we’ve been making for years. Once you taste this, no other lasagne will equal.

Try to refrain from a can of plain ole black olives. Have some fun with Calamatas, niçoises, or maybe something oil-cured.

It’s a lot more fun (and cheaper) to use bacon ends trimmed of their fat than boring processed strips of bacon. ‘Sklonk’ bacon our family always called it.


Our vegetarian version is as well received as the regular lasagne. Substitute 12-16 oz of whole button mushrooms, quartered and sautéd with the oregano and half the rosemary in the oil of your choice, and 12 oz of marinated artichoke hearts, drained, for the spiced meats, and sprinkle a generous handful of pinenuts to roast on the top, and you’ll win a lot of fans

A double recipe brings an 8 quart full-length steam pan not quite to overflowing. Layer the noodles 4 across and 2 down, alternating the pattern with each layer. As this recipe takes a lot of time and freezes very well, go ahead and make a huge quantity. It won’t last long.

Can this be made gluten-free? Try this instead of the noodles: Take about 2½ lbs of eggplant (the more evenly shaped the better), and trim off the caps and bases. Let each rest lengthwise on your cutting board so that you can see which way they naturually want to be cut into horizontal slices. With a peeler, tonsure the horizontal top and bottom so that the end slices will have rind only around the edge.

Now slice with your mandolin into slivers of about ⅜" thick. Salt the slices lightly to draw out some moisture. Very lightly coat a large frying pan with oil, bring to medium-high heat, and brown in single layer batches. You’ll find after browning both sides they shrink down to about ⅛" thick. Re-oil the pan with each set of slices as needed. Do not over-oil: eggplant will absorb more than its own weight in oil, as many an unfortunate imam has discovered.

Use these slices in lieu of boiled noodles, or use as another layer along with the noodles in either the vegetarian or meat version.

Another gluten-free variation which has been testing well is to use slices of acorn squash instead of noodles. However, it’s so labor intensive, we can’t recommend it unless you need to punish the garçon de cuisine. You’ll need about a 2 lb acorn squash to make two layers of pseudo-noodles. Slice the squash along the ribs, then peel the rind with a Y-peeler. Cut each rib into wedges about ⅜" at the wide end. As with the eggplant, brown slightly in very little oil. Do not use three layers as you would with noodles, or the squash flavor will overpower. And do not use butternut or other squash: you want a squash that will stay firm and not turn to mush as it bakes.