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Nanna’s Birthday Lasagna with Homemade Marinara Sauce

I partnered with Cost Plus World Market to make this scrumptious post! All opinions expressed are my own.

Lasagna in a casserole dish.

I can’t believe we are already into September! Even though it is still over one hundred freaking degrees here in So Cal.. I am super stoked for the change of Fall. To me, fall is like this slower pace of living.

Sunday’s are now dedicated to football and recipe testing all day. I no longer have to slave over a hot stove because it will be brisk enough outside. Have I mentioned how stoked I am to break out a sweater too?!

Next weekend we have apple picking penciled in with some friends! I think we will go to Riley’s Farm over in the San Bernadino mountains BUT if you have any better recommendations let me know!

Garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and salt.

Adding tomatoes to homemade sauce.

Dutch oven filled with homemade tomato sauce.

A super special birthday is also just around the corner! My Nanna is turning the ripe age of 78. 

Over the last few years Nanna has kind of been through the ringer! She has undergone a pacemaker surgery and then another surgery due to complications from the first one. She has spent the majority of the last five years in and out of the hospital from too many health problems to even name! I spent a lot of time at each hospital and even slept over a night in a few. Talk about grandma/granddaughter sleepover. We laugh about it now but those were some hard times.

Thankfully she seems to be out of the woods (knock on wood) with most of her larger problems. When each of her birthdays come around it is even more exciting than the last and truly something to celebrate!

I’ve never seen nanna turn down a plate of spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna. I figured a hearty layered lasagna with homemade red sauce would do the trick for this occasion! I teamed up with Cost Plus World Market to make this lasagna and homemade marinara sauce recipe!

I knew the marinara sauce for the lasagna needed to pack something special so I decided to make my own sauce! Nanna loves a lightly-sauced lasagna so I made sure the marinara sauce would pack a ton of flavor!

Layering noodles with sauce in a casserole dish.

Adding a layer of ricotta cheese.

I used these great canned San Marzano tomatoes
from Cost Plus World Market for the base!

To thicken it up, I also threw in a tablespoon of tomato paste.
The sauce comes together fairly easily and like other recipes, this marinara doesn’t need to simmer on the stove for hours and hours!

The layers of lasagna consisted of creamy ricotta with basil chopped in, endless amounts of mozzarella (20 ounces will do!) and lots of this homemade marina sauce. 

I needed a huge pan that would accommodate some pasta poundage! I found this casserole dish and it fit all of my lasagna ingredients just perfectly!

Baked homemade lasagna in a casserole dish

A serving of homemade lasagna in a white bowl.


  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh oregano
  • Red chili flakes
  • Garlic salt or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Bay Leaf
  • San Marzano Tomatos
  • Tomato paste
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Basil leaves, chopped
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Tomato
  • Parmesan for serving  

A serving of homemade lasagna in a white bowl.

If the thought of a huge lasagna sounds daunting, don’t be afraid! Lasagna is a perfect party occasion meal that can usually feed at least 8-10 people! Make the sauce the night before and assemble your lasagna first thing in the morning! Stick it in the fridge, covered, until it’s time to bake it off!

Toss a large green salad and warm garlic bread right before serving! I always keep a ton of these pasta bowls
pasta bowls at the ready for people who come back for seconds!

I picked up these bowls and other fun entertaining essentials
at my local Cost Plus World Market in Brea, CA.

They seriously have everything you need for dinner party essentials and are seriously killing it with fall flavors!

Other weeknight dinners you’ll love: 

If you make Nanna’s Birthday Lasagna with Homemade Marinara Sauce, be sure to tag me on Pinterest and Instagram! I seriously love seeing what you guys are making and sharing your creations with the College Housewife community!

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Nanna’s Birthday Lasagna with Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Author: Elizabeth Van Lierde
  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 1hr
  • Total Time: 2hr
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian


A perfect week night dinner, that everyone will love! With this homemade marinara sauce no one will forget! 



3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Yellow onion, diced

3 Cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme

1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano

1 Teaspoon of red chili flakes

2 Teaspoons of garlic salt or to taste

Black pepper to taste

1 Bay Leaf

(2) 32 Ounce canned San Marzano Tomatos

1 Tablespoon of tomato paste

32 Ounces of cooked al dente lasagna noodles

32 Ounces of ricotta cheese

1/4 Cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped

16 Ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 Tomato, thinly sliced

Parmesan for serving


  1. In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom sauce pan heat olive oil on medium heat. Add in chopped onion and cook for 8-10 mins or until translucent. Add in minced garlic and herbs and cook for 1-2 mins or until fragrant. Add in San Marzano tomatoes, crushing them in your hand before adding them to the pan. Add in tomato paste, chili flakes, garlic salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir together and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. You can take an immersion blender to the sauce after cooking or leave as is (the photos above are a chunkier consistency). 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a large casserole dish add in layers as follows:
  4. Sauce, noodles, ricotta cheese, basil, noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and repeat!
  5. Top the very top layer with mozzarella cheese and freshly sliced tomatoes. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until the tomatos are roasted and the top is golden. 

Keywords: Italian, lasagna, homemade, dinner, easy meals

Servings of homemade lasagna in white bowls.

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1 Comment

  1. October 11, 2017 / 4:31 pm

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more beautiful lasagna! It is making me hungry!

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