Pretty Darn Good Lasagna

I don’t often make lasagna, but when I do, I make two. I find that it’s a lot of effort for a dinner, so I double up, then the effort is minimal another night….or perhaps two nights depending on the size of the pans.

One of these days, I’ll just make extra sauce and freeze the excess. Live & learn, I suppose. đŸ™‚

Anyway, -27 C outside, with some windchill. The snow is deep and dinner needs to be comforting & warm…so, lasagna.

I started the sauce about 1 o’clock, which gave it some time to get all happy together before I put it together with the noodles. Once upon a time, I just opened a couple of cans of pasta sauce & called it good….and there is nothing wrong with that – just putting that out there. If you like it that way, or that’s what you can afford, you put together your lasagna any way you want – there is no wrong way.

My sauce:

  • 2 lbs ground beef (or 1 lb beef and 1 lb pork, or Italian sausage or veal or whatever meat you want….or veggie ground if you want to go vegetarian)
  • 1 small onion, chopped or sliced
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed & chopped (I used the stuff I blanched and froze a little bit ago)
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • garlic – lots (I used 2 heaping tablespoons worth of chopped garlic – if I was using fresh, I would probably use at least 6 cloves)
  • oregano – probably about 1 TB
  • basil – about 1 TB
  • 1 lb of mushrooms, chopped (if you like mushrooms, if not, don’t add. Or add peppers, zucchini – or both. Or eggplant or whatever else you like….even grated carrot but if you do this, you do not need the pinch of sugar)
  • 1 box (and a bit of lasagna noodles – oven ready or cook them before assembly)
  • 1 Litre tub of cottage cheese – or ricotta (sacrilege I know, but I don’t really like ricotta and it is crazy expensive)
  • generous pinch of sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes (not necessary, but it does make a difference)
  • mozzarella cheese – enough to cover the top of your lasagna – shredded (I cubed it because I was feeling lazy and trying to pass it off as being extra)

Brown the beef in some olive oil. Add the onion & garlic, give them a stir around, but don’t brown them – just heat until they get a little soft and smell good.

Add the sauce, paste and tomatoes (with juice). Add the spinach, oregano and basic….lament the fact that your favourite pot is not.quite.big.enough and spoon out some juice so you don’t have to clean a tomato spill later (and then realize that it’s too late, the initial spill has happened).

Leave to simmer for a while….I think I left mine for about an hour. It cooked off some of the liquid so I could add back what I took out at the beginning.

When you’re ready to assemble, take the sauce off the burner and turn it off. Turn your oven on to 350 F.

Scoop a thin layer of sauce into the bottom of your lasagna pan….funny story – eventually, you will have this assembled and will put some tented tinfoil over the top to keep everything from burning….or you will have to use the rounded casserole dishes that have lids because you have no tinfoil because your sons’ girlfriend used the last of the roll when she used it for foils when she bleached her hair and you forgot. Whoops!!!!

My layers were, sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, sauce, noodles, mushrooms, sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, sauce….much cheese.

Put your lid (or tinfoil) on, put in the oven and let it bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. Take off the lid to brown the cheese a bit, if you want. Take out and let it sit for about 15 minutes to cool down the lava and let it sort of bind together – so you don’t get lasagna soup (still tastes good, just not as pretty!)

If you want to make the extra, you can make up the lasagna to where you would bake it, cool it, wrap it very well and freeze it. When ready to eat, take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it, thaw it in the fridge, let it sit on the counter for half an hour before you bake it then bake at 350 F for 45 to 60 minutes. You could also just make the sauce and freeze it to be thawed and used another night. Or you could make them both, bake them both and cool, wrap & freeze one. I bake both, portion one of them out into pieces, cool & wrap the portions individually and they can either be baked later or microwaved.

The aftermath of the lasagna assembly was bad – not as bad as some other times, but still pretty bad. I have this little concoction I use in a spray bottle….2-3 TB of dish soap, 20-30 drops of either Thieves oil or Tea Tree oil and the rest water. Give it a swish (not a shake) before using and spray on the mess. Usually I spray, go get a cloth, get it wet, go back to the stove and wipe and all of it comes up right away. It kills grease, dried on food….it just works amazingly well.

Before
After

:S

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