Meal of the Day: Blair's Lasagna
Italian cooking is one of my specialties... surprising for someone that looks more Swedish than Italian right? ;) This lasagna is so popular that it's the one dish that is scarfed up immediately by all those around with no left overs! Try making the sauce in the slow cooker so that you can make that ahead, then assemble and bake the lasagna later.
Here are the ingredients you will need:
1 1⁄2 lbs lean ground beef
1⁄2 lb Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1⁄2-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper (or to taste)
1 tea spoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 fresh bay leaf (be sure to remove before serving)
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped (or canned chopped tomatoes. I use the Italian seasoned diced tomatoes)
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste (or if you feel the sauce is too thin, you can use more paste)
24 ounces cottage cheese or 24 ounces ricotta cheese (I use ricotta, some people swear by the cottage cheese and they say you can't tell the difference, but I just can't do it. I HATE cottage cheese)
2 eggs, beaten
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons parsley
1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb mozzarella cheese, divided
12 -15 lasagna noodles
- Brown the ground beef, Italian sausage, onion and garlic. Drain fat off OR since I usually let the sauce simmer in slow cooker all day, I brown the meat in some olive oil, little garlic and onion, then drain the fat off and then place in slow cooker with remaining onion and garlic.
- Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, bay leaf, chopped tomatoes with juice, and tomato paste; stirring until well mixed.
- Two choices: Cover and simmer 1 hour on the stove top (or longer,but watch for getting too dry) or I place in slow cooker and allow to simmer all day (or night). About 6-8 hours is what I'm aiming for to really get the flavors developed.
- Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside or you can use the no boil, ready to use lasagna noodles. These have come a long way since first being introduced.
- Spray a 13 x 9" baking pan with cooking spray.
- Combine cottage cheese, eggs, pepper, 2 tablespoons parsley, parmesan cheese and 1/2 lb of mozzarella cheese; In a lasagna pan, layer noodles, meat sauce, and cheese mixture; repeat.
- Top off with layer of noodles; sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese; make sure to cover noodles completely.
- Bake at 375F for 40-60 minutes, or until cheese mixture is thoroughly melted. (I cover w/ foil for about 40 minutes, then uncover for 15-20 minutes. The foil helps protect cheese from burning, but you want to uncover last few minutes to let it brown and crisp if you like that texture, which I do).
- Let sit for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving as it will be easier to cut and remain solid as each individual piece. Typically, most Italian dishes like this taste even better after sitting in fridge for a day or two, allows flavors to develop and work with each other so you can make ahead and serve a day or two later.
As always, love much, laugh often, eat delicious, nutritious and filling food and look fabulous while doing it all! ;) Love, Blair