Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Favorite Lasagna

This recipe is a combination of Chicken Parmigiana by Pioneer Woman, and Lasagna Roll Ups by Favorite Family Recipes.  Boy oh boy is it perfect!  It's a bit of work, but I promise it's worth it.  Say goodbye to nasty jarred or canned spaghetti sauce!

When I made this today, I prepared it before church and placed it in the refrigerator. When we got home all I had to do was bake and serve!  You could easily assemble it the day before, refrigerate overnight and cook it the next day.

You could also make a meatless version by omitting the ground beef and associated cooking step.

Ingredients for the sauce:
-1 lb ground beef (or sausage, or turkey, or whatever meat you think would taste good)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 TB olive oil
-1 TB butter
(If you are using a meat that is NOT lean, omit the oil and only use butter, or you will have a TON of grease to remove. The butter is for delicious flavor.)
-1 whole medium onion, diced (or grated)
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-3/4 cup chicken broth
-3 cans crushed tomatoes
-2 TB sugar
-1 TB dried parsley (or about 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)

Ingredients for the filling:
-2 cups cottage cheese
-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 TB fresh, chopped)
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-salt and pepper to taste

-Lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed (rinsed so they don't stick together and tear apart. :( Also, I like to break my noodles in half before cooking, so they're even more less likely to tear and stick together.)
-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or you could use more fresh Parmesan, I just like how gooey and melty the mozz is.)

Preparation Instructions:
Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. Season one side of ground beef with salt and pepper. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, place the ground beef, seasoned side down in the pan.  While cooking, season the other side of ground beef with salt and pepper.  Cook on first side for 2-3 minutes until you get a nice crust.  Then you can either turn over the ground beef, or start breaking it up, or a combination of both.  Cook until it is no longer pink.  Drain grease and return to heat.

Add onions and garlic and cook until the onions are no longer raw. Pour in chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the bits off the bottom. Cook for 1 minute.

Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I would recommend covering it during this cooking time, since it tends to bubble all over.) Add chopped parsley and give sauce a good stir and a taste. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.

During the 20 minute simmering time, cook the lasagna noodles to al dente. Drain and rinse.

In a bowl combine all filling ingredients.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of filling over the noodles.  Repeat until you run out of each. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and cook until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Perfection!

To make ahead and freeze: Assemble lasagna in a 9x13 pan that is lined with foil, with plenty extra foil on the sides.  Once assembled, cover with foil and freeze until firm.  Once firm, remove from the pan, and wrap with extra foil.  Freeze for up to two months.

To prepare after frozen: Remove lasagna from freezer and remove foil. Place in a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish. Cover and thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and cook until cheese has melted.