I think every home-maker is wise to have a great lasagna recipe in her back pocket. It is a versatile, comfort food that most people absolutely love.
Lasagna is also a dish that freezes very well. I generally have a lasagna hanging out in my freezer. It is great to pull out on a dreary day. Lasagna is also an great food to gift a friend in need of a meal. And truly, if one has a lasagna in the freezer, it makes inviting friends over super easy since it cooks up easily and simple sides like garlic bread and salad pair so well with it.
After many mediocre attempts at making lasagna, I tweaked my recipe to perfection. I think my family has been spoiled to all other lasagnas as a result, but in all good grace, lasagna is one of those recipes that can be altered little by little to the content of each family.
In a way, lasagna is kind of like a fingerprint of a home. We each have a slightly different version, that is personal to our taste. Maybe that is taking lasagna to an exaggerated level of importance, but oh my, I do value a good lasagna.
Oh, I should note that I never make just one lasagna. Lasagna is way too much work for only one. I always double my recipe. It is expensive, but it is not something we eat every month, so I don’t make it all the time. I usually add lasagna ingredients to my shopping list when I pull our last lasagna out of the freezer. And sometimes I spread out the ingredient purchase over the course of a month or so.
The Ellis Family Lasagna
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 jar Classico (or home-made) tomato/basil spaghetti sauce
- 1 pkg. Barilla gluten free, ready-to-bake lasagna noodles
- 16 oz. small curd whole milk ricotta
- 16 oz. small curd low fat cottage cheese
- 2 cups shredded skim or whole milk mozzarella
- 2 cups shredded parmesan (the real stuff-not the can)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs
- Extra cheese to top(Parm, mozz, and or Cheddar)
- Cook up the meat and add a jar of spaghetti sauce to the meat
- Shred all the cheeses
- Mix all the shredded cheese with ricotta, cottage, and egg into a gooey mixture
- spread a bit of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan
- Place one layer of uncooked noodles on the meat mixture
- Spread cheese mixture edge to edge on hard noodles (I often use my hands)
- Spread more meat mixture on top of 1st cheese layer
- Add another layer of noodles
- Put more cheese on top of that layer of noodles
- Spread meat mixture on the second cheese layer (depending on how thick meat and cheese is spread, this may be about all the ingredients. I like to to eek out three layers)
- Layer rest of noodles on the meat mixture
- Spread on one more layer of cheese and then meat
- I like to sprinkle any extra cheese on the top. A blend of cheddar and mozz. is pretty.
- The lasagna can be frozen at this point or baked. DO NOT BAKE AND THEN FREEZE.
- Cover lasagna with a lid or with foil for the entire baking time.
- Bake at 350 for 1 hour (from fresh) OR Bake 350 2 hours (from frozen)
- Uncover and COOL 30-40 minutes-this is very important or the lasagna will fall apart if it is not given time to cool enough to set up. We have dug in too early and it is still good.
- Serve with garlic bread and Italian salad. Brownies make a great dessert with this meal.
Meat: I use a pound of organic/grass fed beef, but there is room for cheaper forms of beef in this recipe
Sauce: I have made my own, but lasagna is so much work to make, I am very happy with the Classico brand. It also contains no sugar which is a great bonus.
Pasta: I started using gluten free lasagna noodles seven years ago. The rice noodles are better in flavor and texture than any other noodle I have used. I like that I do not have to pre-cook them which saves me time in the process of making lasagna. Plus, it frees up my lasagna to share with my friends who cannot eat wheat, so that is an added bonus.
Cheese: I buy all my cheese in block form. It saves me a lot of money, and the cheese is creamier than the pre-shredded versions. I have a food processor and shred block after block on lasagna making day. TIP: Aldi has inexpensive triangles of parmesan. I buy several and shred them up myself.
Yes, lasagna making is a time taking, budget killing venture, but oh my is it a wonderful comfort food to have on hand. I have fallen upon lasagna time after time for a hearty meal to share with friends, brighten up a gloomy day, and gift as a meal to someone in need of cheer. Lasagna is really a perfect meal to keep on hand for such a time as this, or that.