Monday, May 9, 2016

Meaty Lasagna

This lasagna recipe is relatively easy, although it takes about 30 minutes of prep time and then an hour to cook. It makes enough for a dozen people, or it makes great leftovers if you don't eat it all at once. It's super cheesy. My family loves it, including my little girls. I like it meaty, but you can leave out the meat and have a vegetarian lasagna as well.







1 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
6-7 cups spaghetti sauce
1 24oz carton cottage cheese
1 egg
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box (16 oz) lasagna noodles

Brown the ground beef with the minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Drain off the grease.



Mix the browned beef with the spaghetti sauce. I use Ragu meat-flavored sauce, but you can use whatever is your favorite.

In a separate bowl, mix the cottage cheese with the egg. The egg helps the cottage cheese to congeal during cooking and can be left out if you prefer.




Place a 9x13 baking pan or lasagna pan on the counter and arrange all your ingredients so they’re easy to reach. You should have 4 things to layer:
  • Meat and sauce mixture
  • Cottage cheese and egg mixture
  • Shredded mozarella cheese
  • Lasagna noodles




Start by putting a thin layer of the meat and sauce on the bottom of the pan. You want just enough to coat the bottom. This is mostly to keep the noodles from sticking.



Then, add a layer of lasagna noodles. I usually use the oven-ready kind, but it doesn’t really matter. You don’t even have to cook them first as they will cook in the oven. You may have to break them or overlap them slightly to make them fit properly in the pan.



Cover the noodles with more meat and sauce – about 1/3 of what you have left in the bowl. The liquid in the spaghetti sauce is going to be absorbed by the dry noodles as they cook, so you always want the sauce next to the noodles.



Next, you add the cottage cheese mixture – about 1/2 of the total amount.



Next, layer on about 2 cups of the mozarella cheese, or about 1/3 of your total mozarella.



Place a layer of noodles on top of the cheese and repeat the layering, adding meat and sauce (1/2 of the remaining), then cottage cheese (the rest of what you have), then mozarella again (about 2 cups). Top with more noodles and the last of the meat and sauce.

Here are all the layers you will have by the end:

  • Meat and sauce (a thin layer on the bottom)
  • Lasagna noodles 
  • Meat and sauce
  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Meat and sauce
  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Meat and sauce
  • Mozarella (on top) 

Notice that you will have 4 layers of meat and sauce, 3 layers of noodles, 3 layers of mozzarella, and 2 layers of cottage cheese all together.

Layer all of these except the top layer of mozarella cheese. This will pretty nearly fill a 9x13x2 pan. You may have a few noodles or noodle pieces left over and you should have about 2 cups of mozarella left for the top, but you should use up all the other ingredients. This is where you stop for now. The top will be covered with the last of the mozarella cheese, but you want to add it after it bakes awhile.



Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil. Cover the top with the remaining 2 cups of mozarella cheese. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and starting to brown.



You may want to let it cool for 5 minutes or so after taking it out of the oven and before cutting it as this helps it firm up a little. Otherwise, it's very gooey with all that melted cheese and sauce.

Note: If you want to add the cheese during the layering step and just remove the foil for the last 15 minutes, you can do that. But I usually find that the cheese sticks to the foil (because the pan is so full) and taking off the foil thus removes some of the cheese. It’s better to add the last cheese layer after removing the foil, in my opinion.

For a great side, you can make some cheesy garlic Italian bread. Just cut a loaf of French or Italian bread into slices about 1 inch thick and lay them on a cookie sheet. Spread the top with garlic butter and sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning. 



Add a little mozarella cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese melts, then lightly broil for a minute or two until the cheese browns.



The lasagna and cheesy bread can be served with a salad or cooked carrots as a second side. Enjoy!