Friday, February 13, 2015
Nothing beats a big pan of traditional lasagna.
Its warm and comforting with all the goodness of savory sauce and ooey gooey cheese packed between layers of silky noodles.
Do I have you drooling yet?
Do I have you questioning the terminology I used when referring to this as "traditional lasagna"?
Maybe so, let me clarify this one.I said traditional not authentic.
Think of the word traditional for a moment.We all have traditions in our family and to say that this Southern American version is everyone's tradition would be misleading.
You may be a American, from the south like myself and make lasagna in a totally different way.
This is just the traditional way my Mom always made it when I was a kid growing up.Mom also used ricotta cheese sometimes instead of cottage cheese, and was also know to combine the two.All of those ways were delicious!
I myself make several types of lasagna.
I also make a squash lasagna which I replace the noodles for squash and is a good alternative for those watching carbs.
I make another version in which I make a bechamel sauce, and that one has fresh basil and has fresh mozzarella cheese.
I noticed over the years as I watched more cooking shows, we Americans tend to over sauce our pasta.
This is not necessarily a bad thing and more than likely if you are like me, the piles of delicious meat sauce and bubbling cheese is what tempts us in the first place, to dive into a dish like this while it is still pipping hot.Only to realize as our mouth is on fire and our tongues have became blistered, we should have waited for the cool down.This particular recipe and using the noodles that you have to pre cook makes this a perfect balance of sauce for my family.The lasagna still holds its shape once it is cut.
Lasagna is very easy to make even if you have never made a pan before, there is no reason to be intimidated.I actually used store bought ingredients to write this recipe so it would be easy for the everyday home cook and possibly those starting out in the kitchen for the first time.
Of course if you are like me and are lucky enough to have a garden, and make your own pasta sauce, then by all means use it.Use that fresh basil you have growing as well if you have a herb garden.I dont make my own pasta, but hey if you do, go for it.
(1) I noticed I had purchased low fat mozzarella which I normally dont use.It does not melt like the full fat mozzarella.I also added cheddar cheese to get the gooey melting I wanted.Using either is fine, and if watching fat then using just the low fat cheese will work.
(2) I like to use the noodles you must boil.I like to under cook them slightly in the boiling water so they are easier to handle without falling apart, they will finish cooking completely in the oven.I end up with a firmer texture with my noodles when doing this.This is all my preference and you may use the type of noodle you desire.
(3) I used cottage cheese in this today, but you may substitute ricotta or use a mixture of both.I do it both ways.
Step 1: Spread a small amount of sauce in a 9x13 baking dish.
Step 2: Make one layer of noodles over meat sauce.
Step 3: Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce over the noodles.
Step 4: Add 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of sauce.Don't worry about spreading this, or covering all the sauce.I usually use a spoon for this and just do small dollops all over.
Repeat layers.Once I get to the last layer of cheese mixture, I spread this one making sure to get as much of the cottage cheese mixture spread out over meat sauce as possible.The cheese and sauce will get combined a bit at this point but that's fine.
Add the last of your shredded cheese to top of the cottage cheese mixture and bake.It was at this pont I realized I had bought low fat mozzarella cheese.I dont normally use the low fat but if that is your choice you may do so.
Jodies Kitchen Lasagna (Traditional)
lasagna noodles (12oz) I use the kind you must boil.
1 pound ground beef
Pasta sauce (24 oz)
Mozzarella cheese (2 cups shredded & divided).
Cottage cheese (24 oz)
Basil for garnish
In a large pot of salted boiling water cook noodles per directions (under cooking slightly). While waiting for noodles, brown ground beef which has been seasoned with salt & pepper. Drain fat.Add pasta sauce to meat and stir well.In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of the shredded cheese, cottage cheese and egg.Mix well.In a 9X13 baking dish add a very small amount of meat sauce (about 2 TBS) in bottom of pan and spread.Then begin layering. Start with noodles, sauce, cheese mixture and repeat.You should be able to get three layers.Ending with cottage cheese mixture.Sprinkle top with remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.Bake in a 350F preheated oven uncovered until cheese is golden brown.It took mine about 30 minutes.You may cover this with foil to reduce cooking time but make sure to use non stick foil or tent your foil so cheese does not stick.You may then remove foil the last few minutes of cooking time to brown cheese.