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Lasagna

I finally figured out a way to make this great tasting family favourite that doesn't involve hours in the kitchen!
Course Lasagna
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Author Debbie's Dish

Ingredients

  • MEAT SAUCE:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper finely chopped
  • 2 cups 227 g mushrooms chopped
  • 1/2 lb. 227 g ground sausage meat *
  • 1 lb. 454 g lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper
  • 3 cups 650-700 ml tomato sauce (either homemade tomato sauce or purchased pasta sauce)*
  • 1 cup red wine*
  • CHEESE SPINACH FILLING:
  • 3 cups cottage cheese (I used 2% 750 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded cheese*
  • 10 oz. frozen and thawed spinach or 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • NOODLES AND CHEESE:
  • 15 dried lasagna noodles*
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • Basil leaves or finely chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. For THE MEAT SAUCE:
  2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion. Sauté for three or four minutes until softened but not browned. Stir in garlic, red pepper and mushrooms and cook for another three minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and pour into a medium sized bowl. Place pan back on stove and add the sausage meat. Cook until it loses its raw colour, breaking up any larger lumps if necessary. If there is an excess amount of oil left over from the sausage meat, drain into a small container. Add the ground beef, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and break meat into smaller pieces. Cook until the meat loses its raw colour but has not browned, about four minutes. Stir in pasta sauce and red wine and simmer on low heat (still is bubbling a little) for 20 minutes while you prepare the cheese filling and boil water for the noodles.
  3. CHEESE FILLING:
  4. Thaw the frozen spinach and drain well, squeezing out the excess moisture. Chop finely. If using fresh spinach, rinse and place in bow. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until just wilted (there should be liquid in the bottom of bowl). Let cool for a minute or two, then drain well and chop finely. Set aside. Pour cottage cheese into large bowl. Add the eggs and shredded cheese. With an immersion blender (I haven't tried this using a food processor), blend until smooth. Add the drained, chopped spinach and with a spoon, stir until well combined.
  5. ASSEMBLE:
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.F. Make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Use a 13 x 9 x 2.5 inch baking dish.
  7. Cook the lasagne noodles in a large pot of boiling water to which 1 tablespoon oil has been added. Cook for six minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water until you can pick them up easily.
  8. Spread 1/2 cup of the meat sauce in the bottom of the dish ( it will be sparse). Cover with four of the noodles. Trim if necessary to fit pan.
  9. Spread 2 cups of meat sauce over the first layer of noodles. Cover meat sauce with 1 1/4 cups of the cheese mixture and spread out .
  10. Add a new layer of lasagna noodles, overlapping them slightly. Spread 2 cups of the meat sauce, then 1 1/4 cups of the cheese sauce.
  11. Repeat layering of the noodles, meat and cheese sauce twice more. This will be the last of the meat sauce.
  12. Place the last three lasagna noodles on the top layer (I find using only three noodles instead of four makes it easier to cut lengthwise after cooking as you can follow the lines), covering with the remaining cheese filling, spread over the noodles. Sprinkle the 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese over the cheese filling.
  13. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until heated through and bubbling around the edges.
  14. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil or parsley.
  15. TO MAKE AHEAD:
  16. After completing all the steps above except baking, wrap the dish in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze . If frozen, the lasagna must be thawed in the refrigerator ahead of baking, which can be done the night before you plan to bake it. Baking time might be slightly longer if frozen.
  17. TO REHEAT COOKED, LEFTOVER LASAGNA:
  18. I find the microwave reheats leftover lasagna the best and keeps it the most moist.
  19. *Notes:
  20. Ground sausage meat works saves time from having to cut the casings off regular sausages.
  21. If using a store bought pasta sauce make sure it is good quality for best flavour.
  22. Use a bold red wine instead of a lighter one.
  23. A mixture of white cheese such as Monterey Jack or cheddar is the best flavour when blending with the cottage cheese mixture.
  24. Use a good quality brand of lasagna noodles, as they won't break apart as much when cooked.