February 3, 2013

Lasagna

P1250114(Photo—Lasagna shown near the top of the photo.  Not super pretty, but it is yum!)

I’m a little like Garfield in that my favorite dish is lasagna.  When family members were in town for a recent funeral, I made a big batch of lasagna to have for people visiting from out of town. 

This isn’t exactly a low cal casserole.  Consider using lean ground beef and whole wheat lasagna to help make it a little healthier. 

There are lots of options on this recipe with the amount of seasoning, addition of olives, and types and amounts of herbs that you use.  Feel free to adjust according to your taste buds and what you have on hand. 

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 onion (if you like onion, chop a large one, if you don’t, go with a smaller one)
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
Cooking spray or oil
1/4 c-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (again, add more if you like it and less if you don’t)
Tony’s seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
2 small containers (6 oz) tomato paste
2 c. water
1/2 c-1 c. chopped and drained black olives (this is completely optional.  I didn’t add them to the batch I recently made because I wasn’t sure if people would like olives or not)
Dried or fresh oregano and basil (to taste, again optional).  I added approximately 1/2 t.dried of each
1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones
Lasagna noodles, cooked by package directions
10 oz cottage cheese or ricotta
1 small package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained/squeezed to remove most of the liquid
2 eggs
Mozzarella cheese (at least a 4 cup package but more if you like it really cheesy)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff)

Directions--

1.  Cook the ground beef with the onion and garlic in a bit of oil or cooking spray.  Drain completely.

2.  Add the parsley, tomato paste, water, olives (if using), and bay leaf, and stir together.  Begin adding your seasonings and dried herbs, tasting as you add a little to get the mixture right for your liking.  Let simmer 1 hour or longer. Remove bay leaves.  You can always stop at this point and either refrigerate or freeze the sauce to be used at another time if you choose. 

3.  Mix the cottage cheese or ricotta with the drained frozen spinach and egg. 

4.  Cook lasagna to al dente according to package directions.  There are many people who choose to use their pasta raw, but I never find that the texture is right when it is completed. 

5.  To a deep casserole dish that has been oiled or sprayed with cooking spray, add about 1/2 cups of the sauce as the base layer.  Then top with lasagna noodles and layer with the spinach mixture, mozzarella cheese, more sauce and another layer of noodles.  When you get near the top, finish the layers with lasagna noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. 

6.  If desired, cover well and freeze for another time.  Be sure to pull out the night before you need it so that it thaws before cooking.  Otherwise spray some foil with cooking spray to prevent the cheese from sticking and loosely cover the casserole.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45min-1 hour (depending on the size of the dish).  In the last 10 minutes of baking, remove the foil so that the cheese is allowed to become a nice golden color.  Enjoy!

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