Being allergic to tomatoes I don’t cook much with them. Raw tomatoes are definitely out – but there are a few jarred sauces that don’t affect me too badly. I tend to us Ragu jarred sauce for most things as this seems to bother me the least. But feel free to use any type of tomato sauce you like. Seeing as how my husband absolutely loves tomatoes and tomato sauce – I do try to make things for him. His absolute favorite dish is lasagna. Being a bit time consuming AND having tomatoes in it makes it a dish I don’t get to make all that often. But the other day I did take the time to make the dish for him – a huge pan that will last him for a few meals at least. He is a very happy man.
My Meat Sauce
1 lb lean ground meat
1 lb ground sausage, mild
2 jars Ragu Meat sauce
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Basil
3 Tbsp Minced Garlic
For the Lasagna
15 Lasagna noodles
2 24oz Containers of Cottage Cheese (small curd)
2 lbs Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
To Make the Sauce – This is just my recipe – you can use any meat sauce recipe you like
I start by browning off the ground meat and sausage, then draining. I then add the minced garlic and spices and cook a bit longer. Then I add the 2 large jars of Ragu sauce. I simmer my sauce at least 4 hours – but you can let it simmer as long as you like. The longer – the thicker and more flavor.
To Cook the Lasagna Noodles –
When cooking lasagna noodles, you don’t want to break them up. I found I had to do them in two batches to get all 15 cooked because my pot wasn’t big enough. Bring a large pot of water to boil with a dash of salt and a splash of olive oil. When water comes to a full rolling boil, slide one noodle into the pot, allowing it to soften and sink into the water. Then add the next. Keep adding noodles until you either have them all in there – or if your pot isn’t large enough, split them into batches. Allow to cook until soft and mostly done. Don’t over cook them or they will be hard to work with and will fall apart in the lasagna. Drain and set aside.
To Assemble Lasagna –
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take large, deep baking dish. You are going to want one that is at least 3 or 4 inches deep – as this lasagna has about 4 layers to it. Spread a thin layer of the meat sauce along the bottom of the pan. Lay a single layer of the lasagna noodles along the bottom. Mine takes 5 noodles to make one layer. Then spread another layer of meat sauce along the noodles. Spoon dollops of the cottage cheese on top of the meat sauce. Spread gently with the spoon. Then sprinkle liberally with the shredded cheese. Top this with another layer of the noodles. Then meat sauce, then cottage cheese, then shredded cheese. You should finish with a layer of noodles, meat sauce, then shredded cheese.
When lasagna is done being assembled – cover the pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with no stick spray on the underside before covering and it will keep it from sticking to the cheese top. Bake in the oven for an hour. Take out of the oven and remove the foil from the top. Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 30 minutes – until the top is as browned as you would like it.
When you remove the lasagna from the oven, allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. This allows it to cool and set. If you cut into it immediately, it will all slide apart and the cheeses will ooze out. Allowing it to set will make it easier to cut and serve.
Final Thoughts –
I am not a huge fan of lasagna – but I do like it. I find it a bit time consuming to make, and as I have a small kitchen, and not many large pot and such, it can be challenging to make. However, I do have that wonderful, old, blue roasting pan that my mother in law gave me that is perfect for so many different things – including this huge lasagna. My family gives this dish two thumbs up and are very happy when I do go through the trouble to make this. And it does make at least 3 meals for my family. I do freeze a lot of it – it freezes well. A great winter recipe, and the whole house smells great when you are baking it.