Friday, June 2, 2017

Old Meets New Lasagne

Lasagne has always been an easy recipe to make. It was a very special treat when Kevin and I were young. On a $20- a week food budget, cheeses were a luxury. Plus, I didn't know how to make noodles back then. My recipe has evolved over the years, but some things stay the same. They just work.
Kevin and I both know what we like, and we can be resistant to change when it pertains to what others call improvements. 

I made three pans of this lasagne by doubling this recipe. One to give away, one for Kevin's lunch, and one for dinner. I used (2) 6x9 pans and (1) 8x8 pan. 

After making my Basic Pasta Dough, I cut it into nine pieces. This was for three pans. This recipe is for one pan of lasagne, so you will need three noodles. If your noodles aren't wide enough to reach the side edges, make two over-lapping, side by side. 

Three of them were very small. They don't come to the edges of my pans. The others, I rolled out as wide as my KitchenAid roller would accomodate, and about four inches longer than the length of my pan. 

After my initial roll on setting '1' on my pasta roller, I fold my dough into thirds and run it through again. I keep doing this until it reaches the point that when I turn it sideways, it's as long as my roller is wide. Now that the width is perfect, turn the dough and roll the length. I ended at setting '6' for thickness on my KitchenAid.

Brown a pound of ground beef with garlic and onion. Add roasted tomatoes, basil, and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are browned and the onion is soft. 

Set this aside.

Make an assembly line. It's easier when all of the ingredients are prepped, waiting to be layered.

In a bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, and pepper.

I'm using a jar of spaghetti sauce. I don't have any tomato sauce left from the garden last year, and I've used this many times before. It's good. Open it up, and set it aside. Grate mozzarella and cheddar and set them in the line. 

Now that it's all prepped and waiting, let the layering begin. Oil the pan. Place a fair amount of sauce on the bottom. It should easily cover the bottom by 1/4 of an inch. Since the noodles won't be pre-boiled, they will soak up some moisture. Lay one of the long noodles over the sauce, making sure the length overhangs.

Pour more sauce on top of the noodle. 

Add the ground beef mixture, then more sauce on top of that. 

Layer the shortest noodle on top of the sauce. It's the perfect size for my middle noodle.

 Top with cottage cheese mixture.

Layer on 3/4 cheddar.

And 3/4 mozzarella.

Fold the long noodle ends up and over the top. Tuck the remaining long, top noodle down along the sides. This is a good example of the progression. The two pans on the left are the perfect size for my noodle roller. The pan on the right is wider than my noodle roller, so I rolled out two and laid them side by side ensuring they measured longer than my pan. The pan on the right is ready for more sauce. The two on the left still need a top noodle tucked in.

Spread the rest of the sauce over the top. Don't be stingy. Remember that these noddles will soak up some moisture. Bare spots mean a crunchy noodle. Cover it the best you can.

Top with remaining cheddar and mozzarella. Especially where the sauce is thin. Covering the noodle is crucial. Sprinkle a little parmesan over the top and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for an hour. 

After removing from the oven, let set fifteen minutes. Slice it, plate it, and serve it with a salad. We ate the french bread before I could get a good picture, but you get the idea. 

It's a perfect meal, and a glass of red wine will top it off. Jump over to my friend, Ashley's, website to check out her reviews of different wines. I'm sure you'll find something perfect to serve with this lasagne.

  • *For the noodles
  • Basic Pasta Dough
  • *The ground beef mixture
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10-12 mushrooms, sliced; about 2 C
  • Basil; I pinched the top two largest layers of 4 plants. It yielded around 8 large leaves plus 16 small; rip the basil with your hands before adding
  • 4 roasted tomatoes; or 1/2 can of tomatoes. If using canned, cook out the liquid after adding
  • *For the cottage cheese filling
  • 8 oz small curd cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C shredded parmesan; (approximately 4 oz)
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • *To layer the cheeses
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese; 1C
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese; 1C
  • *For the sauce
  • 1 20-ish oz jar of spaghetti sauce; add basil, garlic, bell peppers, or whatever your tastes desire. Or nothing at all. 
Most restaurants use ricotta cheese rather than cottage cheese. It's delicious. My lasagne will always be made with cottage cheese. It's a leftover from days long past. Kevin prefers it that way. Spaghetti sauce is neither here nor there for me. I always add my own flavors with herbs and vegetables anyway. It depends on my mood and what I have on hand at the time. Basil is a great herb to add to tomato. Oregano is good too. If the acids in tomatoes bother you, add a pinch of sugar. Not to taste, but to tame the acid a little.