Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Here's a family-favorite recipe that we've enjoyed since before my children were born (many moons ago). It's a bit time consuming, but definitely appropriate for novice cooks and those familiar with finding their way around the kitchen. It actually looks a lot tougher than it really is! Preparation takes the most time, so I am dividing it into individual sections to make it easier. And, as a bonus, I have included a second use for all that delicious meat sauce! Enjoy, or should I say "Buon appetito!" 

LASAGNA WITH MEAT SAUCE (enough for 2 - 13x9 pans)
This sauce is thick, delicious and attractive. The recipe will make enough so you can freeze half the sauce in covered dishes/freezer-safe plastic ware to use with spaghetti for additional meals.
  • 1-2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green peppers, finely chopped
  • 3 lbs ground beef (you can use ground turkey or chicken, but we prefer beef)
  • 2 large cans (29 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (14-16 oz) diced tomatoes, Italian style
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or 2 tsp garlic powder
  • (you can use 3 tsp Italian seasoning if you don't have the above)
  • 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper (approx.)
Cut up the onion and pepper. Place the oil in a heavy large sauce pan or frying pan. Add onions and peppers and heat until onions begin to turn clear (translucent) - about 5 minutes. If you use garlic cloves, add them now. Crumble up ground beef into the pan and stir and cook until no pink shows and parts of the beef begin to turn crispy brown. Remove from heat, drain, then stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Return to the heat and cook on medium for about 10 minutes, or until boiling, then reduce heat to low/medium and simmer for 3/4 to 1 hour, stirring frequently, until thick. To prevent splatters, use a splatter shield. You may wish to add an additional 1/2 c water during cooking. NOTE: DIVIDE THE SAUCE INTO TWO PARTS AND LET COOL SLIGHTLY. After 15 minutes in the fridge, freeze one half the sauce in freezer-proof storage containers (I divided it the one part into 2 containers, for 2 future meals for us) and use with spaghetti at another time. Budget-friendly, time-saving idea. The remaining half of the sauce will be used for the lasagna.

This is the other layer in the dish. Rich, creamy and delicious, it adds body to the lasagna. We prefer cottage cheese to ricotta cheese.
  • 2-3 lbs cottage cheese (2 or 3 regular tubs or one giant one)
  • 1 pkg shredded Parmesan cheese (or 3/4 c grated parmesan cheese in a jar)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c parsley flakes
  • 2 pkgs mozzarella cheese (reserved for assembly)
Some people like more cheese in their lasagna, others less. Use what you can afford and what you prefer. We like more filling, so that's why I suggested 3 lbs cottage cheese. Mix cottage cheese, Parmesan and parsley flakes together and place in fridge. Easy.

Cook 1 package of lasagna noodles according to package directions, adding a tsp of oil and a dash of salt to the water to stop sticking. When done, drain in colander and run cool water over the noodles. Reminder: this recipe makes 2 pans of lasagna! I used aluminum foil pans the last time.
  1. Place 3 lasagna noodles lengthwise on the bottom of each pan, one beside the other. Cover with sauce (about 2 ladles-ful for each layer) using the remaining half of the prepared sauce.  
  2. Cover with approximately 1 ladle (4-6 heaping tbsp) of the cottage cheese mixture for each pan. Place dollops more or less evenly spaced over the sauce.
  3. Top with approximately 1/3 package of mozzarella cheese for each pan of lasagna. That will give you 3 layers.
  4. Repeat the steps (1-3) above
  5. For the last layer, place lasagna noodles on top. Put remainder of sauce on the top layer, top with any remaining cottage cheese mixture and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. You can sprinkle on a bit of grated Parmesan cheese if you like.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 3/4 to 1 hour, depending on your oven. You will need to place a cookie sheet under aluminum foil pans, and you may wish to catch any drips with a drip pan. Cover for first 15 minutes with aluminum foil, if you prefer it less crispy. Then remove and continue cooking for at least an additional 30 to 45 minutes. When the lasagna is golden and the cheese is bubbly, it's done.
  7. Remove, let cool slightly (10 minutes) to set, and then cut into wedges and serve. Garlic bread or salad are perfect accompaniments to the meal.
Wow! Just look what you made!

No comments:

Post a Comment