January Cooking Challenge – Lasagna


January Cooking Challenge – Lasagna

Hey friends, let’s get cooking! As promised, our new goal is to get people to their kitchen table. Sometimes that will mean a meal from us or even a frozen pizza, but other times, I’m here to give you the confidence that you can do it, too! Let’s start by talking lasagna.

(First, I preface all this by saying, if you are Italian, the rest of this post may offend you. This is the furthest you can get from Nonna’s version and still call it pasta. On the other hand, if you like cheese and a warm meal on a cold night, well… Keep reading.)

When I was growing up, my mom made spaghetti out of a box like mac and cheese. I think the box had the noodles and a spice packet. She would brown meat, add a small can of tomato paste (and water?), and ta-da, dinner was ready. (You guys!!! This is still a thing! Why is this still a thing!?!?) Keep in mind, this was from a lady who loved to cook! Feeling like there is never enough time is nothing new, but finding new ways to make dinner easier is always evolving.

Meat Lasagna Recipe

The modern-day answer to a boxed meal (well, besides another boxed meal) is to make an extra pan on those days you do have time and keep the spares in the freezer. Below, you’ll find two lasagna recipes that take some time, but you’ll find it only adds minutes to double the recipe (or divide one recipe into smaller containers).

You’ll notice we are a little loose with the ingredients. I’ve tried ground turkey, beef, and Italian sausage (and some combination of the three) in the meat lasagna and find all serve a purpose. Half ground turkey and half mild Italian sausage is my favorite, but play around depending on how health conscious or extravagant you are feeling. As for the veggie one, use whatever is in season or what you have on hand. I use this dish to clean out the veggie drawer, but find that my favorite combination is carrots, zucchini, onions, and peppers. The secret is in the food processor here. You chop the veggie and cheese mixture down to a ground meat-like consistency. In the end, this makes a healthy(ish) dish taste just as delicious as the original!

Lasagna Recipes

You could make your own sauce if you’re so inspired. I like this one from my new favorite cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. It makes about 15 cups, which is perfect for a few lasagnas AND a few quart-sized bags in the freezer for spaghetti night. Don’t feel like taking that step? Check out Classico Tomato and Basil sauce. Costco usually has gigantic bottles, the sauce tastes good, and its one of the few that don’t have added sugar. (Side note – lots of homemade sauces have sugar. It’s necessary to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. That said, the bottled stuff seems to add it simply for flavor.)

Try one of these and let us know what you think. Or order one of our frozen ones. Whatever. Just get to the table with a glass of wine and your favorite people. That’s the main goal, right?


MEAT LASAGNA

Meat Lasagna Recipe

Meat Lasagna

Course: Main Course
Servings: 8 servings
Consider this your base recipe for a yummy yet easy meat lasagna. Play around and see how to make it your own.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 24 oz cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 7 cups marinara sauce
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 lbs ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage
  • 1 Tbsp Penzey's Frozen Pizza spice
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Brown the meat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in frozen pizza spice (less if using Italian sausage.) Drain if necessary and allow to cool slightly.
  • Combine cottage cheese, eggs, 1 cup of parmesan, garlic salt, and pepper.
  • Line a 9X13 pan* with cooking spray and cover the bottom with about 1 cup of tomato sauce. From here, assemble all layers in the following order: noodles, meat, tomato sauce, cottage cheese mix, mozzarella. Repeat to make two or three layers, ending with a layer of just noodles, tomato sauce and shredded cheese.
  • Top with the remaining parmesan cheese.
  • If freezing, cover with foil and wrap in plastic.
  • When it's time to eat, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge. Preheat oven to 375. Remove plastic wrap and loosen lid or foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking until cheese is bubbling and browned.

Notes

* If you have a smaller group, or don't care for leftovers, try recyclable metal containers like this. This recipe will make three smaller packages perfect for 2 to 3 adult-sized servings.

VEGGIE LASAGNA

Veggie Lasagna

Course: Main Course
Servings: 8 servings
This veggie-heavy lasagna is a perfect replacement for its meat-y counterpart!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onion chopped
  • 3 lbs veggies (such as red peppers, carrots, zucchini) chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed*
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 4 cups cottage cheese 32 oz
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp pepper yes, there is a lot!
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles***
  • 1 lb shredded mozzarella

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine onion, other veggies and olive oil on a baking sheet. Roast until soft, about 25 minutes.
  • Pour half the cottage cheese into the bowl of a food processor and blend it until smooth. 
  • Add the cooked veggies and spinach into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped (not pureed) as to mimic meat texture. Transfer to a bowl with the remaining cottage cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9X13** metal baking dish. Layer 2 noodles on top. Spread half the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with 3/4 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella. Repeat entirely, then create a final layer of noodles, tomato sauce, and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  • If freezing, wrap in foil and plastic wrap. Allow to cool in the fridge before putting in the freezer.
  • When it's time to serve, thaw overnight in the fridge. Bake at 425 covered for 25 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 10-12 minutes more. Remove from oven and let lasagna cool for 10 minutes (necessary!). Slice and serve.     

Notes

* Try to get the kind of frozen spinach that is flash frozen in separate pieces vs. one big clump. If you get the boxed kind, be sure to completely thaw and drain all access liquid.
* If you have a smaller group, or don't care for leftovers, try recyclable metal containers like this. This recipe will make three smaller packages perfect for 2 to 3 adult-sized servings.

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