I have made this lasagna for everything from weeknight meals at home to family holiday meals and even for a wedding I catered last fall. This is a great recipe to divide into smaller serving pans to freeze for future use. I have often pulled out a pan of lasagna to give to a family that has just had a baby or surgery or otherwise needs a meal. It is also nice for personal use when I know I have a busy week and don’t have time to cook something fresh. Add some fresh bread or bread sticks and a salad to make it extra special.
*The recipe below is for one large 10×15 pan or three 8×8 or 9×9 pans or a combination of one 9×13 and an 8×8 or 9×9. I like to make the smaller pans for freezing for future use or to give away.
*If you prefer a less meaty lasagna, you could easily decrease the meats to 1/2 pound each or less.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 medium-large onion, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh or jarred minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon or more of each: salt, pepper, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seed (I taste and add more as I go if needed)
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1 quart of home canned tomatoes
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- approximately 1/2-1 cup water
- (optional) 1 tablespoon sugar (I find it cuts the acid taste of the tomatoes)
- approximately 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- approximately 1/2 cup cottage cheese (you could also use ricotta)
- approximately 2 and 1/2 cups (15 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
- one pound lasagna noodles (I do not recommend the oven-ready ones for best taste and texture)
- Brown the ground beef and sausage in a large deep skillet on medium high with the minced onion and garlic and spices.
- Once the meat is browned, drain any excess fat if needed. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. I use a little water to rinse out the tomato cans and add that to the sauce. The water helps thin the sauce just a little. Turn the heat down to low, cover the skillet and let it simmer for 20 minutes or more. (If I have the time, I will let it simmer for an hour or more to develop the flavors further, but I have also used the sauce almost immediately, and it has still tasted good.)
- While the sauce simmers, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, I rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process. I then fill the pot with enough cool water to cover the noodles, so they don’t dry out or stick together as I assemble the lasagna.
- Once the sauce and noodles are cooked, assemble the lasagna in whatever size pan(s) you are using. I start with a small scoop of sauce on the bottom of the pan–just a thin layer. Next, cover the bottom of the pan with noodles slightly overlapping. (Trim noodles with kitchen scissors if needed to fit.) I then put an appropriate portion of sauce over the noodles followed by dollops of cottage cheese, a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese, and a portion of the mozzarella cheese. I repeat this process once with noodles, sauce, parmesan, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. For the top, I layer noodles, sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese (no cottage cheese on top).
- If not baking immediately, you can cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days or freeze for a longer period of time.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-45 minutes until heated through, bubbly, and cheese is melted. Sometimes the center of the lasagna takes a while to heat through, especially in a large pan. You can continue baking or finish heating in the microwave. If you like the top of the lasagna to be a little browned, turn on your broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese. If possible, thaw frozen lasagna before baking. If baking directly from frozen, you should decrease the oven temperature and increase the baking time.
Source: Adapted from my mom