“The Best Lasagna. Ever.”

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Hello friends! Today is Monday and because it is Monday it is one of only two nights during the week that Dave and I can spend time together. With our new schedules (my school/work, his student teaching/work) we have to try really hard to pull off date nights. The past few Mondays Dave has cooked me dinner at his place, once he made Chicken Marsala from scratch with spinach and angel hair, the other time he made me rib eye with spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. I did minimal work – something new for me – and watched as the meal unfolded. Because I love to cook so much, it always fascinates me to watch someone else cook. He definitely knows what he’s doing.

This Monday, however, I wanted to cook instead. But, I don’t get out of class until 7pm, so I wanted something that I could prep in the morning and throw together relatively easily at night. I considered a few things, including pot roast and lasagna. I talked to my sister, who lives with me (or do I live with her?) and she decided on lasagna.

I’ve made lasagna before, but it was a few years ago. I remember that it came out great, but was extremely labor intensive. This time I wanted something that was not necessarily easier, but streamlined. I did a Google search, and came across The Pioneer Woman. Her lasagna recipe, the self-titled “Best Lasagna. Ever.”, purposed me to read on. I wanted to know if she was right!

I read through the recipe and it was easy for me to understand step-by-step, plus she has pictures. I decided this was the route to go – because after only reading it once, I could remember the steps by heart. That’s some serious streamlining. So, after work last night, I went to the grocery store to buy the supplies. I’m not really sure how much it cost – because I bought other things – but I want to say I got every ingredient on the list for under $40. I did get a lot of things that most people already have in their homes – like the Parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, and garlic. I wanted all of the ingredients to be new.

Then, this morning, I assembled everything. It took me about 45 minutes and it was a lot easier than I remember it being last time. Obviously there are links for you to navigate to her website, but I will include the recipe here as well. Let me tell you – this is DELICIOUS! Rave reviews from everyone who ate it, and Dave even took some to work the next day as leftovers. This is a huge meal, one piece is so dense that I couldn’t have seconds, and there were 12 pieces the way I sliced it. Anyone want some lasagna?

Ingredients

1.5 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. hot breakfast sausage (I had a hard time finding this, and it was late so no one was in the meat department, but I used ground hot italian sausage.)
2 Cloves garlic, minced (I picked this trick up from Dave – after you peel the garlic, use a fork to mash it. Way easier than using a knife, and produces the same results as using a garlic press. Plus, it’s fun.)
2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes (I grabbed the 28-ounce can)
2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste (I used one 12-ounce can)
4 tbsp. dried parsley (2 tbsp. for the meat mixture, 2 tbsp. for the cottage cheese mixture)
2 tbsp. dried basil
2.5 tsp. salt (1 tsp. for the meat mixture, 1 tsp. for the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 tsp. for the boiling water)
3 cups low-fat cottage cheese (or one 24-ounce container of low-fat cottage cheese – that is roughly three cups)
2 whole beaten eggs
1/2 cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan cheese
1 lb. sliced mozzarella cheese (I used two 8-ounce packages of sliced cheese. You could have them slice cheese at the cheese counter)
1 package (10-ounce) Lasagna Noodles (The recipe calls for eight noodles, you will probably have leftovers)
Olive oil

The Steps

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, with 1/2 tsp. of salt and a tbsp. of olive oil.

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 tbsp parsley, 2 tbsp basil, and 1 tsp salt. Mix well and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps. Stir occasionally.

In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 tbsp parsley, and 1 tsp salt. Stir together well. Set aside.

Cook lasagna noodles until “al dente” (not overly cooked). Around ten minutes at a boil, stirring occasionally.

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 and carefully, as too much pressure will move the noodles out-of-place. Think icing on a cake. Cover cottage cheese with half of the mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon half the meat sauce mixture over the top and spread evenly.

Repeat the above steps with the remaining ingredients: noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and end with meat sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with Parmesan 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 kept mine in the fridge all day and it took much longer to bake – about 45 minutes to an hour – to get nice and hot. So, if you are starting cold, give yourself extra time.

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