I have this thing about finding the best pancake recipe, brownie recipe, chewy chocolate chip recipe etc. I also have this thing about mastering basic foods – like lasagna. I’ve never been really happy about my lasagna results. Yes, they have all been edible and delicious BUT they haven’t been what I would call lasagna – perfect layers of meat sauce and pasta. I don’t need the sauce to taste like it has been simmered over the stove for hours upon end, or some posh-nosh cheese sauce in between the layers, I just want my lasagna to stay in shape and look and taste decent.
So, to get this out of my system, my husband encouraged me to go all out and try and follow a recipe to the T to achieve the best results. Often times I try and be smart and cut corners and that’s probably why my lasagna never turns out the way I want it to be.
Stuff I learned from this lasagna making episode:
– Lasagna noodles are the bane of my existence. No matter what I do (oil, oil, oil), they still stick to each other…help somebody?
– Lasagna tastes best the next day, and day after, and day after… One should make the lasagna the day before and have it the next day because 1) it just tastes better and 2) it is much easier to cut and serve, it also looks much better and doesn’t fall apart when placed on the plate.
– Tomato paste helps make the sauce much richer and better tasting. Point taken.
– Hot breakfast sausage makes a big difference too in the meat sauce. I shall now stock up on this product when it is on sale.
I used Pioneer Woman’s (PW) recipe for the “Best Lasagna. Ever.” and made very few changes. My comments/changes are in red.
Basic Meat Lasagna
- 1.5 pounds Ground Beef (I just used 1 pound of beef)
- 1 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage
- 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes
- 2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley (I didn’t have the listed dried herbs on hand so I just used dried Italian herbs mix)
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 3 cups Lowfat Cottage Cheese
- 2 whole Beaten Eggs
- 1/2 cup Grated (not Shredded) Parmesan Cheese (I used grated toscano cheese, milder than a parmesan)
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese (I used the shredded stuff)
- 1 package (10 Ounce) Lasagna Noodles (add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.
- In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).
- To assemble: Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top. Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan. (I actually ended with the noodle top with the cheese mixture and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.)
- Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly. (I usually bake, refrigerate overnight, slice, and then freeze the individual portions.)