It's September and school has started. The kids are hungrier than ever, and I need some hearty dinners that can be made ahead and ready to go. Everyone loves lasagna, and the small grocery store down the street makes their own hot Italian pork sausage, which adds a little kick to this favorite dish. The groceries for this recipe cost just under $20, and one pan makes 12 servings -- enough for two family dinners for four, plus four pieces for Dad to take to the office for lunches. If we buy frozen lasagna from the deli up the street, it costs $40 for only 8 servings!
I decided to make lasagna for a Sunday night meal, saving the rest to reheat on Tuesday for a night off from cooking. Sausage Lasagna is simple to assemble, and it uses cottage cheese instead of the more pricey ricotta. It's very similar to my mom's recipe, which I love!
The first thing to do is get a big pot of salted water boiling to cook the lasagna noodles. I always make the whole package -- even thought the recipe only calls for for nine noodles. My kids love to eat any extra noodles for fun, so they never go to waste. More importantly, if any tear, I have extras. To help keep the noodles from sticking and tearing, add about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the water when you put it on to boil, and gently stir the noodles several times while they're cooking. Another trick I learned from my mom is to drain the noodles and then carefully lay them around the edge of the pot. Do this right after draining, because the longer they sit in a pile, the harder they are to separate.
While the water is boiling and the noodles are cooking, brown the sausage with the onion. The recipe calls for draining excess grease, but my sausage was so lean it was unnecessary.
The great thing about this meat sauce is that you just add the other ingredients and you're done with it -- no lengthy cooking. The flavors meld and come together while the lasagna is baking.
Next, mix up the filling ingredients. I put my 3 cups of cottage cheese into my 4-cup measuring cup and use it as my mixing bowl. I crack the egg on top and toss on the parsley.
When the ingredients are well-mixed, the cottage cheese filling is ready to go.
Now all that's needed is to shred the mozzarella and grate the parmesan. I like to get everything on the table and ready to go, and carefully read the recipe one more time so I get the layering right.
OK, I think I've got it figured out now, but I know I need to keep focused! The order is as follows: 1/3 of the sauce, then 1/3 of the noodles, then 1/3 of the cottage cheese filling, then 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat this three times, but the last time you put all the remaining mozzarella on top. Then, and only then, comes the sprinkling of the 1/4 cup parmesan.
Let's start. First, put 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom. It seems odd, but it keeps the noodles from sticking to the pan and gives them something to simmer in.
Now, add three noodles. Hopefully you have three that are in tact, but any ripped or torn noodles can simple be pieced together. It's all a big cheesy casserole in the end, so an imperfect noodle will likely never be noticed.
Next, add 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture and 1/2 cup mozzarella.
After you've repeated the layers three times, adding all the remaining mozzarella on the final layer, you sprinkle on the parmesan. At this point, you can see that this cheesy masterpiece is going to be amazing!
The lasagna bakes for about an hour, which is plenty of time to clean up, set the table, and steam a vegetable for a side dish. When the oven buzzer goes off, peek in and you should see a gorgeous lasagna with a golden crust, all bubbly around the edges. Beautiful! (I always call out to the girls to 'come see the lasagna' and they come running in to look. We all stand around and 'ooooh' and 'ahhhhh' for a minute or two!)
This lasagna serves very well. The pieces cut easily and come out all together. But the most impressive part is the taste! Simply fabulous and very, very satisfying.
After dinner, I covered the lasagna -- we'd only eaten four of the 12 servings -- and put it into the fridge. We enjoyed it immensely a couple days later, and Dad had wonderful lunches to reheat at the office for almost the whole week.
You should definitely try this recipe for Sausage Lasagna. You might find it just like your mom's, or maybe it will be a new favorite like it is for us. It would be great if you would rate and review this recipe. Send me a note below if you have questions or comments, or if you make this recipe. I'd love to hear from you!
Stop back again in a few days to hear all about Julie's homemade mac and cheese -- another great entreé for fall...