Wednesday, May 31, 2017

simple lasagna

At Costco the other day, I sent my younger son to get a tub of sour cream. It wasn’t until we got home that I realized he had picked up a tub of cottage cheese instead. He calls it cabbage cheese, though, and another kid calls it college cheese. With a tub of whatever-you-call-it cheese in the fridge, I decided to make lasagna. I rarely make lasagna, which was evidenced when my younger daughter asked me what was for supper.

“What’s for supper?” she said.

“Lasagna.”

Lasagna? What’s that?” And then, “Oh, is that the long noodles with sauce and cheese?” 

“Yep.”

“Yay!”

So I guess she knew enough about it to be excited.


I always feel like lasagna is so complicated, what with all the components: the cheeses, sauce, cooked meat, and the noodles. This time, though, it didn’t feel like such a big deal. Maybe because my daughter helped prep the garlic and onions, and I skipped measurements? In any case, the lasagnas—I always make two—came together quickly, and then we had enough leftovers to last us several more meals.


Bonus: when they’re baking, they make the whole house smell intoxicating. My husband walked in the door, took one whiff, and groaned with pleasure.

“I don’t even need to eat it,” he said. “I’d be happy to just sit here, breathing in the smell.”

Which was a slight exaggeration, but okay.


Simple Lasagna

My mother always made her lasagnas meatless, and topped with mushrooms. (The mushrooms totally make the dish, I think.) I added a layer of cooked Italian sausage, which is delicious but completely unnecessary, and I only topped a partial pan with mushrooms since some of my family members haven’t yet fully evolved.

1 pound lasagna noodles
2 pounds cottage cheese
1½ pounds mozzarella cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4-5 cups tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons salt
black pepper
2-3 large onions, small dice
8 cloves garlic, minced
a glug or two of olive oil
fresh parsley, a large handful, roughly chopped
1½ pounds mushrooms, sauteed, optional
1-2 pounds Italian sausage, optional

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Drain the noodles and then submerge in cold water so they don't stick to each other. Set aside.

If using sausage, cook it on the stove top and then set aside.

If using mushrooms, saute and set aside.

In a large saucepan, saute the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. When translucent and soft, add the tomato sauce, dried oregano and basil, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes and then set aside.

To assemble:
Grease two 9x13 pans. In each pan, layer: three noodles, 1/6th of the sauce and fresh parsley and 1/4th of the cottage cheese, mozzarella, and meat. Repeat the layers. Place the third and final layer of noodles in the pans. Top with the last of the sauce, the mushrooms, parsley, and the Parmesan cheese. At this point the lasagnas can be covered and refrigerated for later. (Or cover tightly with foil and freeze. To thaw, let set at room temperature for about 8 hours before baking.)

Bake the lasagnas at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the sauce bubbles in the middle. Let the lasagnas rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (5.30.16), an evening together, in her element, a bunch of stuff, showtime!, down to the river to chill, barbequed pork ribs, fresh strawberry cream pie.

10 comments:

  1. I hated making lasagna until I tried the Ronzoni no cook sheets. They are wonderful and no more precooking of the noodles.

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    1. I use regular noodles and don't cook them either, just use a little extra sauce and bake for a bit longer, covered tightly in foil for 40 minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes. Works best if you can refrigerate for a while before baking.

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    2. AP: how much is a little extra sauce? And to clarify: you use regular noodles or the no-cook noodles?

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    3. Don't know about AP, but when I used to make lasagna (in pre-coeliac diagnosis days), I would always use regular lasagna noodles (don't think that we have more than one type) and I'd say about three times as much sauce as in your picture. Not necessarily more meat, but more tomato - for liquid to be soaked up by the pasta. Also, I'd always cover my lasagna dish with a lid or tinfoil. And I think it used to take around 50 minutes to cook.

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    4. I have no patience for cooking noodles and never had. The recipe we love worked with homemade noodles or any store bought noodles (wheat or white) not cooked. The trick (but also what's great about it if doing for company) is that I make it up the day before and then let it sit in the fridge and then just pop it in the oven the day of!!

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    5. I do this too! So much easier than not cooking the noodles. I do about double the sauce than the picture above with dry noodles. Cover with foil, bake for 45 minutes, foil off and back for 15-20 more until brown on top.

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    6. I always make my lasagna in the crockpot so I don't have to cook the noodles!! And I use spinach and mushrooms instead of meat. I have lasagna on my menu radar to finish a tub of cottage cheese which I bought to use up some apple butter in the basement before canning season starts in earnest.

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  2. I really enjoy your blog and pin several of your recipes to my pinterest board - which is named (drum roll) - Jennifer Murch. :) Thanks for another good one. I love a new lasagna recipe to try.

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  3. How funny that cottage cheese prompted you to want to make lasagna-- it doesn't have that affect on me lol. We eat cottage cheese by its self and use other cheeses in lasagna. As usual- love everything you write ❤️

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  4. Looks delicious. I love lasagna. We must be bigger noodle lovers than your family though as we've always made with 4 noodles per layer and 4 layers of noodles with 3 layers of filling. The top has 5 noodles, actually. But I know it's a slightly bigger pan than 9x13 because my 9x13 pan sits inside it in the cupboard.

    The mushrooms on top sound good. I seldom add meat but use an eggplant filling instead. We grow a lot of food and I make a mix of diced eggplant, bell peppers and onion and saute it all in olive oil and pack it 1 and 2 cup freezer containers. We add it to spaghetti, lasagna, enchiladas. I don't season it ahead of time so I can flavor as needed. The eggplant mimics a meaty filling. I started this one year when we had way more eggplant that we could use or sell at the stand so now we grow extra eggplants to make sure I have enough.


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