Cheese Lasagna

I once heard it said that the test of a good lasagna is that when you cut it and remove a piece, the piece stays in tact and the sauce doesn’t pool all around. I don’t know that that is necessarily always true, but I try to hit that mark. I’ve found a few tips for achieving that and am here to share them.

Lasagna

I’ve probably made 132 lasagnas in my lifetime. If we’re counting baking a store-bought frozen lasagna, that’ll make it about 476. (These numbers are slight exaggerations.) (Ok, they’re probably huge exaggerations, but you get the gist.)

Sometimes I hit and sometimes I miss. Sometimes I add lots of vegetables, sometimes I go straight up cheesy. I’ve made many lasagna’s with meat as well. The recipe I’m about to share is my go-to cheese lasagna. Nothing special. Nothing fancy. Just good. If nothing else, maybe it will at least give you some tips on how to achieve the lasagna ideal.

I often make my own pasta sauce using canned tomatoes. I buy canned tomatoes in bulk at Costco. It’s so easy and cheap to just blend together a bunch of stuff into a tomato sauce — whether I’m wanting traditional pasta sauce, enchilada sauce or salsa…just add the appropriate seasonings and blend. You can easily substitute jarred pasta sauce, but I’m going to include my recipe for pasta sauce just in case.

You can use ricotta in place of cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has significantly more protein and we actually prefer the taste and texture in lasagna. Give it a try! It honestly doesn’t even taste like cottage cheese, if that’s not your thing.

I also don’t ever mess around with boiling my noodles before hand and I don’t buy no-boil noodles. In fact, I’ve been using brown rice pasta for quite some time, so my version happens to be gluten free. You can use whatever lasagna noodles you want. I’ve had success with brown rice, whole wheat and traditional. The key to not having to boil the noodles is ensuring there is an adequate amount of sauce and other liquids in the layers. Also, I typically will make my lasagna a couple days in advance. Just assemble, cover and refrigerate. When we’re ready to eat, I bake it. Allowing it to sit in the refrigerator gives the pasta time to soften and soak everything up. It’s not necessary though — I’ve assembled and immediately baked with just as much success.

I hope this recipe and the tips to follow inspire you to venture away from the frozen lasagna and make one homemade. It’s really not difficult at all — just a matter of layering everything together. And with the option of assembling a couple days in advance, it makes it a great mid-week quick dinner.

The tricks I’ve discovered to getting the ideal lasagna:
Alternate which way the lasagna noodles face. This creates a bit of a criss-cross pattern that helps hold everything in.
Make lots of layers. A 3 layer lasagna is just going to go everywhere when you cut into it.
Add a little flour to the cottage cheese mixture. It binds together with the egg and fat from the cottage cheese to help thicken it slightly.

Lasagna

Lasagna

  • Servings: 6-10, depending on how it is cut
  • Print

Even though it’s just two of us eating, I always make this in a 15×10 casserole dish. We love leftover lasagna, so it never goes to waste. This recipe is for a 15×10, so you may need to scale down if making a smaller size.

SAUCE:
Yields 5 cups pasta sauce
1 yellow onion, roughly diced (size doesn’t matter, but smaller is better)
1 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed (doesn’t need to be minced)
3 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes with the liquid
1/2 tbs sugar (optional, but really enhances the tomato-ey flavor)
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Italian seasoning (something that has oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, garlic, etc in it)

LASAGNA:
5 cups pasta sauce
3 eggs
1 tbs flour (all-purpose, brown rice, gluten free or whatever else you have should do the trick)
4 cups cottage cheese (full or partial fat both work)
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz shredded mozzarella
2 boxes lasagna noodles

To make the sauce:
In a medium-sized pot, over medium-low heat (number 4), cook the onion with the salt until the onions turn golden and start to stick to the bottom of the pot — about 10 minutes — stirring occasionally
Reduce the heat to low (number 2)
Add the olive oil and garlic, stir and scrape the bottom of the pot to get all of the brown bits up
Cook until the garlic is super fragrant, stirring near constant — about 3 minutes
Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and stir to combine
Cover with a lid and allow to lightly simmer over low heat for 60 minutes
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
Blend until smooth either in a blender or using an immersion blender
Stir in the Italian seasoning
Taste and add more salt or seasoning if necessary
Can be refrigerated for a couple days before using, but be sure to taste it before using to ensure it is still good

To assemble the lasagna:
In a bowl, combine the cottage cheese, eggs and salt
Pour just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan — roughly 1 cup
Lay noodles horizontally across the pan, using any broken pieces to fill any gaps
Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture across the top of the noodles
Lay noodles vertically across the pan, using any broken pieces to fill any gaps
Spread enough sauce to cover the noodles — roughly 2 cups
Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella
Lay noodles horizontally across the pan, using any broken pieces to fill any gaps
Spread the rest of the cottage cheese mixture across the top of the noodles
Lay noodles vertically across the pan, using any broken pieces to fill any gaps
Spread the rest of the sauce across the noodles — roughly 2 cups
Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and the parmesan, if using
Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate

When ready to bake:
Preheat oven to 375
If baking straight from refrigerator, place lasagna in the oven while it preheats to keep the pan from cracking
Bake 45 minutes
Remove foil
Bake 10 minutes
Allow to rest 5 minutes
Cut and eat

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jess Carey says:

    I love lasagna too – I figure it’s my birthright, given that I’m Italian. Most of the time when I feel like eating it though, I’m too lazy to make it. But literally right this moment I have a tray in the oven because I started reading this post half an hour ago and I needed lasagna. So damn you/thank you 😀 haha

    Like

    1. kallieschaefer says:

      Haha, you’re welcome! I hope your lasagna was delicious. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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