We love lasagna! Here is my version of our family recipe. This version has 2 layers of sauce and noodles, and one layer of spinach-cheese mixture. It's chock full of vegetables if you add all the optional ingredients. This makes enough to fit a large pan; something a little larger than your standard 13 x 9 pan. (You can use a 13 x 9 pan but you may have leftover sauce.) It takes me about an hour to make (without interruptions, that is) but it is worth it because there are always plenty of leftovers!
- Lasagna Noodles of your choice: 10-12 standard size noodles
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1-2 carrots, grated
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 package mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1 zucchini, diced (optional)
- 1 yellow squash, diced (optional)
- 1 lb ground meat of your choice (optional) I like ground beef for this recipe
- 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (or 28 oz can)
- 1 12 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 6 oz cans tomato paste
- Bay leaf
- Salt and Pepper
- 1-2 tsp sugar or to taste
- 12-18 oz spinach leaves (fresh or frozen)
- 1 16 oz container cottage cheese
- 6-8 oz shredded mozarella
- 3 oz shredded Parmesan
- 1 egg
1. If lasagna noodles require boiling, set salted water to boil in large pot. Continue with recipe. When water boils, add lasagna and cook for minimum time instructed on box. Lay out a kitchen towel topped with a sheet of wax paper. Strain noodles and lay half of noodles flat on wax paper. Set down addl wax paper on top, lay out the rest of the noodles. (if using no boil noodles, I recommend soaking them in warm water for a few minutes before putting the lasagna together.)
2. In large dutch oven or very large saute/skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat, breaking into small pieces. Remove from pan and set aside. If using fresh spinach, add spinach leaves to pan juices, stir over medium heat until wilted (add a little olive oil if pan is too dry). If using frozen spinach, place in strainer to defrost and drain excess water. Empty spinach into a medium size mixing bowl to cool/hold until step 4.
3. In same pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and shredded carrot, saute 5 minutes over medium low heat, stirring frequently. Add other optional vegetables one by one (mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash), stirring and cooking each for 5 minutes or so. Add all cans of tomatoes/sauce/paste, adding about 3/4 cup water. Add cooked ground beef and mix everything together. Add spices to taste: I usually add more than a teaspoon of both oregano and basil and 1 bay leaf. Add salt, pepper, and sugar.Cover and simmer on low while preparing the spinach mixture.
4. Carefully press the wilted spinach and pour out any excess liquid. Combine spinach, cottage cheese, mozarella, parmesan, and the egg in mixing bowl. Mix everything together into a paste.
5. Taste tomato sauce mixture and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove bay leaf. Scoop half of tomato sauce mixture into large lasagna pan, shake pan to distribute sauce evenly. Cover with half of lasagna noodles. Scatter spoonfuls of the spinach mixture all over top of noodles, using entire mixture; spread to cover noodles with back of spoon. Top with remaning noodles. Spoon remainder of sauce over noodles, spread evenly. Sprinkle with additional mozarella and parmesan to taste.
6. Bake uncovered at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until bubbling; let stand for 10 minutes before serving. This also can be frozen; thaw for 24 hours before baking. I like to freeze individual portions after baking and serving. (Tip: refrigerate cooked lasagna in pan for 12 hours or so before cutting up to freeze; the pieces stay put together better if lasagna is cold before cutting it up.)
Enjoy! I would post a picture, but we inhaled it all before I thought about taking one. I had to rescue the last 3 pieces from being eaten so that I could freeze them for a later lunch or quick dinner.