Monday, February 23, 2015

Lasagna for a Busy (or Lazy) Day

My family loves lasagna. Cheesy, gooey, tomatoey lasagna with multiple layers.

This is a recipe I've made for years. It looks nothing like the original recipe someone gave me almost thirty years ago, but a good recipe grows and changes with time and use.

A gratuitous view of the Badlands from Mt. Rushmore never gets old :)

One thing I love about this recipe is that you don't have to pre-cook the lasagna noodles! And this recipe is from back in the days before no-cook lasagna noodles were invented :)

Another thing I love about it is that you can put it together and bake it right away, or you can refrigerate it or freeze it until you're ready to bake it. Perfect for Seekerville's upcoming Speedbo (their own version of NaNoWriMo - you can read about it here) or for any time when there's too much to do in a day.

You can even split it into two, put half the recipe in each of two 9 x 9 baking dishes, freeze one and have the other one tonight.

And if you don't have the right ingredients on hand? Use what you have! Once you have the basics - lasagna noodles, cheese, tomato sauce - you're good to go.

Lazy Day Lasagna


Layer one:
1 pound mild or sweet Italian sausage, browned and drained
36 oz. (give or take) jarred spaghetti sauce (about 1 1/2 - 24 oz. jars)

Layer two:
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups cottage cheese - not low fat
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese - not the powdered stuff
1/3 c. chopped parsley or 3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried minced onion

Layer three:
16 oz. block mozzarella cheese, sliced

Layer four:
12 uncooked lasagna noodles

Final touch:
1/4 cup water

For the first layer, reserve 1/3 cup sauce, and then mix the cooked sausage and the rest of the spaghetti sauce in a medium bowl. Set it aside.

For the second layer, lightly beat 2 eggs, then mix in the rest of the layer two ingredients.

Set that one aside, too.

Your cheese is sliced and your box of lasagna noodles is open, right? We're ready to assemble the lasagna.

First, spread the 1/3 cup reserved sauce on the bottom of a greased 9" x 13" baking dish.

Layer three uncooked lasagna noodles, then 1/4 of the meat sauce, then 1/4 of the cheese mixture, then 1/2 of the sliced cheese.

Repeat these four layers - noodles, meat sauce, cheese mixture, sliced cheese.

Add another layer of noodles and cheese mixture, then noodles and meat mixture. Top with an additional 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Pour the final touch - 1/4 cup water - around the edges of the baking dish.

Cover tightly with foil.

At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the lasagna, or you can bake it right away.

Bake, covered, at 375° for one hour. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until the top is starting to brown. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it rest at least 10 minutes - while you make a salad and toast some garlic bread.

Alas, I don't have a picture after it came out of the oven. We had a carry-in dinner at church last night, and the lasagna disappeared before I remembered to snap a picture.

This time of year, when the snow and cold linger and spring seems far away, comfort food like lasagna seems to be a necessity. What is your favorite comfort food?


  1. Perfection. A salad and garlic bread...mmmmmm!!!

    1. You're right, Tina. The perfect combination!

  2. This is very similar to my mother's passed down recipe. For me it is all about the italian sausage rather than ground beef. And I use half cottage cheese and half ricotta now.

    I've switched to using zucchini noodles to lower the carbs and add fiber but it just isn't the same! Sniff.

    Comfort food. Real all natural ingredient hot chocolate.

    1. Yes. Hot chocolate with plenty of cream.... :)

      My family balks at zucchini noodles, or eggplant noodles, or anything else that isn't real pasta. But if I'm making a batch just for myself?

      I have a thingy that makes spiral vegetable noodles. I stir fry those with some onions and garlic, add some tomato sauce and stir in cottage cheese and Parmesan. Kind of a zucchini/lasagna mess - but tasty!

  3. I LOVE this!! Because I never like to mess with cooking the noodles and laying them out on a towel to drain. Thanks for sharing, Jan! I've been buying Stouffer's for years. But you just convinced me to try homemade once again. :)

    1. Oh, this is so much better that Stouffer's, Missy! And only a little bit more work :)

  4. Oooh, I didn't know you could use cottage cheese in lasagna. I've used ricotta before. And this post reminds me that I haven't made lasagna in a decade (really!) I layer veggies instead of sausage...zucchini high on the list. I could make my modified version of this and put it in smaller pans to freeze and have a whack of ready made dinners on hand. You've inspired me.

    1. I think cottage cheese in lasagna must be a Midwest thing.

      Another veggie I love in lasagna is spinach. Oooh, I love a spinach and mushroom lasagna with white sauce instead of tomato! Kind of like Virginia's pizza over the weekend!

      And freezer meals are the only way to go when you're super busy. I used to do once-a-month cooking. It was so easy to take a casserole out of the freezer in the evening, let it thaw all night and day in the fridge, and then bake it for supper the next evening. But my family didn't like the recipes in the book and I've never had time to come up with my own menu to do it with their favorites.

    2. Oh, good call on the spinach and mushrooms. I'm going to add the ingredients to my grocery list and make some Speedbo meals for March. :-)

  5. I haven't made lasagna from scratch for ages. I always used beef and cottage cheese (and sometimes spinach) but this sounds so good. You've inspired me!

    Hubby looks for my macaroni and cheese as a comfort meal, but a stir fry is my preference -- a bowl filled with shredded chicken and all my favourite veggies tossed together with a bit of sesame sauce. Mmmm!! :)

    1. That sounds so good, Carol! I love stir fries :)

  6. Carol Garvin, that sounds marvelous!

    Jan, I have to try this method. It looks wonderful and I've been craving lasagna!!! How did you know? Did I mention it? Am I invited? Oh, just say yes and I'm on a plane!!! :)