A Lovely Lasagna
This is a dish I make much too infrequently. Partly because of the amount of time it takes to prepare, and the calories per serving, but also because it wouldn’t be as special if I made it all the time. Even so, it is one of those dishes that makes my family go wild. Lasagna night is a night they love so much, that they’ll do the dishes and wipe down the kitchen to the floor while I enjoy the rest of the night upon my pedestal…like I said, much too infrequently.
In the following photos I will reveal the secret method to such honors. First the list of ingredients:
- 9 pieces of lasagna pasta
- a large pot of boiling salted water
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 large carrot sliced very thinly
- 2 ribs of celery also sliced thinly
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 cup each sliced black olives and mushrooms (optional)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 & 1/2 tsp. dried Italian herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, thyme)
- a 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 1 &1/2 jars (24 oz) of traditional spaghetti sauce
- 1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese, or ricotta
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°. Begin by boiling the noodles keeping them on edge to prevent them from sticking together and allowing them to cook evenly for ten minutes. Drain and set aside, reserving a cup or so of the pasta liquid. In the now empty pot saute the vegetables in olive oil, move them to the side when the onions are almost clear and put the ground beef directly on the metal of the cleared spot. As the meat browns mix it in with the vegetables, add the diced tomatoes and dried herbs and stir together, Now add the tomato paste and sauce. Let this simmer a while to help marry the many different flavors.
In a 13″ x 9″ baking pan, ladle some of the sauce in to coat the bottom. Place three lasagna noodles lengthwise to cover the sauce. Use a bit of the pasta water to loosen the noodles without tearing if they are stuck together. Now for the first layer. Ladle enough sauce to cover the noodles, dollop the cottage/ricotta cheese around using only half. The other half will go in the next layer. sprinkle a generous layer of mozzerella, about a third of the Parmesan, and a pinch or two of parsley flakes all around.
Repeat these steps for the second layer, but for the top layer, ladle on sauce, omit the cottage/ricotta cheese, and only top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake 45 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbly. Allow it to cool slightly before serving. Makes 9 to 12 servings.