January 9, 2017

Preparing a pan of lasagna may seem like a modern thing to do, but it’s actually an ancient dish. Lasagna originated in Naples, Italy in The Middle Ages. Through the years the original ingredients of layers of pasta, sauce and cheese have remained the same, but there are countless other takes on it as well.

 

Meat Lover’s Lasagna

Strangely, a frozen dinner gave me inspiration to try a new recipe. Last week as I was eating a Meat Lover’s Lasagna from the freezer section during my 30-minute lunch at school, I thought about making a version at home.

Lasagna is not difficult to make, but there are a few steps to follow and you will have a few extra dishes to wash. However, when you’re done, you will have a mouth-watering, meaty lasagna that will feed at least eight hungry people. Hearty lasagna is also ideal for leftovers and freezing for later.

 

1 lb lean ground beef

3/4 lb ground Italian sausage

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic)

5 oz whole pepperoni, cut into small chunks

2 teaspoons ground oregano

1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano

1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned cottage cheese (or any variety)

1 cup shredded fresh Parmigianno-Reggiano

2 teaspoons dried parsley

2 large eggs

9 oven-ready lasagna noodles (I used flat lasagna noodles)

2 (8-oz) pkgs shredded mozzarella

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled; drain well.

Return meat to pan and add pepperoni, oregano, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs. Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13x9-inch casserole dish. Place 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce and then finally mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

 

Note: You may want to place a jelly roll pan under the casserole dish in the oven to catch drips. My casserole dish was so full there were a few drips that splattered to the bottom of the oven.

 

Make-Ahead Lasagna Roll-ups

If you are looking for a make ahead, freezer dish for your family, this is it. This recipe by Betty Crocker makes 16 lasagna roll-ups for an evening when you need the convenience of a wholesome freezer meal.

 

For lasagna roll-ups:

16 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 lb bulk pork sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce (for filling)

2 containers (15 oz each) ricotta cheese

1 box (9 oz) frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 egg

 

For baking at a later date:

3 cups tomato pasta sauce (for baking roll-ups)

2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (for baking roll ups)

 

In 5-quart Dutch oven, cook lasagna noodles as directed on package. Drain; rinse with hot water. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, cook beef, sausage and onion over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

In small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, spinach, Italian seasoning, and egg. Spread about 3 tablespoons ricotta mixture over each cooked lasagna noodle to within 1 inch of one short end. Spoon about 1/4 cup meat mixture over ricotta mixture on each. Roll up firmly toward unfilled end. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil. Place roll-ups, seam side down, on pan; cover loosely with foil.

Freeze about 30 minutes or until firm.

Place frozen rolls in airtight freezer container; label. Freeze up to 3 months.

To bake:

Spray two 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dishes with cooking spray. Remove roll-ups from freezer bag; place 8 in each baking dish. Cover with foil; thaw in refrigerator at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce over and around roll-ups in each baking dish. Cover tightly with foil; bake 30 to 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle each baking dish with 1 cup mozzarella cheese; bake uncovered 3 to 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.