Lasagna, deconstructed

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Whether you spell it “lasagna” or “lasagna” or give up on the dictionary altogether and call it casserole, the fact remains that a lot of people think of lasagna as a complicated, time-consuming, messy dish. Delicious, yes, but one that requires the better part of a day to put together.

It doesn’t.

In today’s video, I break down the making of lasagna into 3 simple steps – and there is no large pot of boiling water involved. This is a master recipe, one you can doctor up (or not) to your liking. You can indeed make vegan, gluten-free lasagna, although this is not a recipe for that . . . I’ll tackle that one in the future.

So here you go. Lasagna, deconstructed.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4-7 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (garlic is up to you!)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1 16 oz container cottage cheese
  • 2 oz fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained and squeezed dry (optional)
  • 1 package lasagna noodles, either no-boil or regular
  • 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 more oz fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • OPTIONAL: meat or mushrooms, more veggies like carrots, zucchini, onions

 

STEP 1: the sauce

  • (yes, you can use jarred sauce or your own homemade. But this is so simple and yummy!)
  • Pulse the tomatoes 6-7 times in a food processor, until broken down but still chunky
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and salt.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
  • TO MAKE A MEAT SAUCE: Cook chopped onions together with 1 lb ground meat (I use part beef and part bulk sausage) until not pink inside. Stir in the sauce.
  • TO MAKE A VEGGIE SAUCE: Saute onions and sliced mushrooms or zucchini together in a saucepan – if mushrooms, cook over high heat until the veggies start to brown. Stir in the sauce.

STEP 2: the filling

  • In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, cottage, parmesan, egg, and basil. Mix well. Then stir in the spinach.

STEP 3: The assembly

  • In a large baking pan (or 2 smaller ones – you’ll have to cut up the lasagna noodles to make them fit) layer 2 cups of sauce on the bottom.
  • Fit 4 lasagna noodles (or however many fit) in the bottom of the pan.
  • Drop spoonfuls of filling on each noodle, then spread it out (I use my hands, well-washed)
  • Top with a handful of mozzarella cheese.
  • Add sauce, spreading it out evenly over the layer.
  • Repeat until you are out of ingredients or out of space
  • FINAL LAYER needs to be sauce, all over the top of any noodles – the noodles need to be covered for this to work well.
  • Then sprinkle remaining cheese and parmesan cheese on top.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 15-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and browned.

 

This freezes beautifully – I cut it into individual portions, wrap them well in foil and plastic wrap, and stash them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 2 months. Easy tasty lunch!

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