This was my first time to make lasagna from scratch; usually I just buy Stouffer’s frozen lasagna. And now that I think about it, the only lasagna we ever ate in my family growing up was Stouffer’s frozen lasagna; I’m fairly certain my mom doesn’t even have a recipe for lasagna in her recipe book. So I was pretty excited to make my first lasagna because homemade lasagna just screams “whoever made this is a domestic goddess” (well, it does to me). And I am earnestly trying to increase my domestic goddess skills.
[Side Note: The fact that my mom doesn’t make homemade lasagna does not decrease her domestic goddess status. She does lots of other things to make up for the lack of homemade lasagna. Also, I don’t ever remember thinking as a kid that I would really prefer homemade lasagna instead of frozen.]
I was expecting this to be a hard task because homemade lasagna makers seem to complain about how involved it is to make a lasagna. But I didn’t think this recipe was any more involved than other casseroles I’ve made. Sure, you have to take time to prepare and then layer the ingredients, but I can think of at least 2 other dishes that involve a similar process. So, if there are any other novice cooks out there wanting to attempt a homemade lasagna, this is a great recipe with which to start.
[Side note: This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, who doesn’t need a lasagna recipe to make her a domestic goddess because she does so many other ridiculously domestic things (like bake wedding cakes, sew anything and everything, and teach nursery kids on Sunday mornings).]
from the kitchen of: my mother-in-law
prep time: 1.5 hrs +/-
12 lasagna noodles
1 ½ lbs ground chuck
1 (28 oz) jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms (the mushrooms are optional)
24 oz cottage cheese
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, using the shortest cook time. (You want the noodles to be not quite al dente so they won’t overcook in the oven.) Add noodles to water one at a time so they don’t stick together. After they are done cooking drain and set them aside. (I recommend rinsing them in hot water to prevent them from sticking together as they cool.)
Brown meat in a large skillet. Drain grease, and then rinse meat to remove any extra grease. (I did not rinse my meat and the flavor was not affected. However, I do think that the extra grease might have prevented the sauce from clinging to the noodles.) Season the meat with salt and pepper, to taste. Add spaghetti sauce to browned meat and mix well.
In a medium bowl combine cottage cheese and eggs until well blended. (I recommend scrambling the eggs in a separate bowl before adding them to the cottage cheese.)
Line the bottom of the casserole dish with 4 cooked noodles, overlapping the edges. Cover the noodles with half of the meat mixture, then half of the cottage cheese mixture, then half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers (noodles, meat, cottage cheese). Top the second layer of cottage cheese with a layer of noodles before adding the second layer of mozzarella. Your layers should be as follows:
Bake for 45 minutes. Let set about 10-15 minutes before serving.
I added 2 cloves chopped garlic and 2 tsp dried minced onion to the meat as it was browning. (I cooked 2 lbs of meat and saved the extra half pound for another meal.)
The lasagna will completely fill your casserole dish once it is assembled. Unless you are using a deep dish I recommend putting a cookie sheet under the casserole dish to catch any spillovers during baking.
You should definitely serve this with plenty of grated parmesan. My family has a saying, “Cheese is good. Cheese is your friend.” My family eats parmesan cheese on just about every pasta dish. I just recently learned that Russell’s family only eats parmesan cheese on spaghetti. I find that very sad.