As I have said before, I am not a chef, I’m not even a good everyday cook. I have one go-to recipe that I know will always come out great – LASAGNA. It’s kind of become a thing with the people my husband works with – once a year we host everyone for a lasagna dinner, and any new employees in the group get initiated by coming to our home for lasagna. Hey, whatever works to bring people together! I hope you find this recipe a blessing to your family as well.
2 lbs ground beef, browned and drained (half turkey works well, as does half sausage)
1 can tomato sauce (I use Hunt’s Tomato Sauce or Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce when I don’t have homemade sauce on hand)
1 can (10 oz) chicken or beef broth (I also use Watkins Chicken Soup & Gravy Base instead of bouillon when I don’t have broth on hand)
1/4 onion, diced
Cumin – because I like more than is usually in the spice blends (I use Watkins Ground Cumin)
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and diced
Lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat noodles, usually 8-10 is enough for one 4 quart casserole pan)
1 large container of Small Curd Cottage Cheese
1 lb Mozzerella cheese, shredded or in thin slices
1 lb Cheddar cheese, shredded or in thin slices (Colby Jack tastes great as well)
Grated Parmesan/Romano or four cheese blend
I personally believe that the cheese is what makes this lasagna such a big hit!
I do this step in one of two ways – on the stove in a large skillet or in an electric skillet. When using the electric skillet, I simmer longer on a lower temperature.
If you like, put a dash of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add the onion and saute’ for a couple of minutes, then add uncooked ground beef and brown the beef with the onion. (If you like a mild garlic flavor, add it now and cook in with the beef and onion – if you like it stronger wait until the very end of mixing these ingredients.) Drain the beef. Add 1 can of tomato sauce, chicken broth, and spices. Simmer together for 30 minutes until sauce is thickened but not dry; add the garlic the last 5 minutes if you did not do so in the first stage.
While you are doing the above, cook the lasagna noodles according to the box directions. I like mine a little underdone so they aren’t tough after being in the oven, so I only cook the noodles for 5 minutes.
When your sauce mixture is ready and your noodles are cooked and drained, make an assembly line.
I put my lasagna pan at my right hand with the meat sauce next to the left of it. Noodles, cottage cheese and shredded cheese are behind these for easy access to make the layers.
Layer the ingredients up from the bottom of the pan as follows:
sauce (I usually use 2-3 large serving spoons – do not coat the bottom of the pan, the sauce will work its way down from the top during cooking!)
cottage cheese (I put two heaping Tablespoons in the middle of the sauce and spread it around)
noodles (it takes three full noodles side by side to cover my pan)
cottage cheese (another two heaping Tablespoons, spread over the noodles)
shredded cheese (I attempt to balance the two cheeses, one layer with mozzerella in the body of the pan and cheddar over this and around the edges, next cheese layer I swap those ratios – but it’s cheese, you really can’t get it wrong.)
Repeat this until the pan is full – my pan usually takes four layers. I always save enough sauce to make a final sauce layer onto of the cheese and dust the top with Parmesan/Romano cheese.
Bake at 350° for 30 – 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. After you take it out of the oven, let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into it – this allows all the “juices” to work back into the layers!
It also bakes well at 250° for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
I often make up the lasagna on a Saturday evening, refrigerate, and then bake Sunday in my oven on Time Bake while we are at worship services. Best smell EVER to walk in to at lunchtime! Yum!
I usually make my sauce in my Le Creuset 7 1/4 Qt pot (it’s perfect for making Stuffed Spud Soup too!)