Italian Lasagna

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

I am convinced there is not a better lasagna recipe better than the one I am about to share with you. The meat sauce is so full of flavor that you will want to make a double batch to freeze for later. My kids call this "Bajana" and love this meal so much. Nothing makes me happier than watching my family enjoy what I cook.


*A note about my lasagna pan. I am obsessed with this 16 x 12.5 x 4 inch, porcelain enamel pan which holds a whopping 10.5 quarts. I can fit a DOUBLE BATCH lasagna in here and feed an army. I purchased on amazon, and it is oven, stove top, and dishwasher safe. I do not get compensated in any way if you buy this product, I am simply sharing because I love it so much. Did I mention it comes in 10 colors?


Ingredients

2 T olive oil (I love California Olive Ranch EVOO, or 2 T of butter works too)

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, shredded with a grater (this is optional, but delicious)

2 stalks of celery, diced small (this is optional, but also delicious)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 pound Ground Beef

1 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage

1 cup good wine (red or white is fine, but make it a good glass that you enjoy drinking)

2 cans (6 ounce each) tomato paste

2 cans (14.5 ounce each) whole tomatoes

2 Tablespoons dried parsley

2 Tablespoons dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar


3 cups cottage cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated parmesan

2 Tablespoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt


1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced at deli counter

1 package (10 Ounce) lasagna noodles


Make the Sauce

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat a 2-count of olive oil over medium heat or 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are very tender but not browned. Add the garlic last and stir until fragrant, one minute.


Raise the heat a bit. Take the ground beef and hot breakfast sausage and add it to the pan, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon or ground meat tool until the meat is no longer pink. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated.


Turn down the heat to medium-high and make space in the middle for the tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste in the center until it turns brick red, then add the cans of whole peeled tomatoes. Season with parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Use a pastry cutter or a ground meat tool to smash the tomatoes into the sauce.


Lower the heat and simmer very slowly for up to 2 hours, stirring now and then, until the sauce is very thick. If you only have 30 minutes, no problem. Taste again for salt and pepper. Mash the sauce against the side of the pan to blend it. If you made a double batch, transfer half of the sauce to containers and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to several months.


Make the Middle Layers

In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well.


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the lasagna noodles until "al dente" not overly cooked. Try to time this so that you are ready to assemble the lasagna when the noodles are barely done. If the noodles sit too long it can be difficult to pull them apart. If you find yourself in this quarry, do not be tempted to let the noodles sit in the water longer. It is best to pull the noodles apart and lay them stretched flat on sheet pans without touching (because they are sticky).


Assemble and Cook

In the bottom of your lasagna pan spread a thin layer of meat sauce. Then arrange cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping slightly if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon a little less than half the meat sauce mixture over the top of the cheese.


Repeat, ending with meat sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan and tear up any mozzarella slices left over.


Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.


© 2018 by Mandy Begley | Leander, Texas

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