Every year when I ask my husband what he wants for his birthday dinner, nine times out of ten, his response is lasagna. Not take out, not a big, juicy steak, all he wants is a giant, homemade lasagna. It is a fantastic family meal, easy to make and share with a large group, or freeze for an quicker meal another night. Today I’m posting the recipe for our giant lasagna, but I will include modifications for smaller ones and at the end a quick recipe for a super fast lasagna you can make in a pinch on nights when you may not have a lot of time or energy!
1 box lasagna noodles
2 lbs ground beef (use 1 lb for smaller lasagnas, 2 lbs for a giant or 2 lbs if making 2 smaller ones)
2x 24oz cans pasta sauce
1 yellow onion
2 bell peppers
6 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 x 500g container of cottage cheese
1 1/2C grated parmesan
4 C uncooked baby spinach leaves (optional)
1/2 tbsp olive oil (only if adding spinach)
1 400g of mozzarella cheese, grated
This recipe uses a 9×12 glass dish to build the lasagna. If you would rather make smaller portions, adjust the ratios based on your pan size. I often use my 3qt glass pyrex casserole dishes to make one lasagna for dinner and one for the freezer which works wonderfully.
Start by bringing a pot of water with a tsp of salt to boil that will be big enough to hold all of your lasagna noodles. Once the water comes to a boil, add your noodles and reduce heat to low. Cook until noodles are tender, about 10 min. Once noodles are cooked, empty into a colander and rinse with cold water until you are able to handle the noodles.
While the water heats, dice up your peppers, onions and garlic and set aside. Place a skillet big enough for your ground beef and diced vegetables on the stove top and start warming it on medium. Once heated, place your ground beef into the skillet. Use a spatula to break up the ground beef into small pieces. Add your diced vegetables. The beef should contain enough fat that you won’t need to add any additional oil to sautee the veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste and your italian seasonings so the beef cooks and absorbs the flavours of all the seasonings.
Place another skillet on the stove, turn to just under medium heat and add the olive oil. Once warm, add the spinach, salt and pepper and sautee until the spinach is cooked. It will reduce quite a bit. Remove from heat and let cool. If you don’t want spinach, skip this step.
While the noodles and beef cook, take your casserole dishes and pasta sauce. Place enough sauce in the bottom of your dish to cover the bottom in a thin layer. This will prevent the noodles from sticking. Pour a bit in the center, then gently turn and tilt your dish until the bottom and up each side a bit is covered. As the noodles and beef continue to cook, take a bowl and place the cottage cheese in it. Add the egg and 1 C of parmesan. Add pepper and salt. Stir together until fully blended. Add the spinach once it’s cooler.
The noodles should be done by now and under water cooling. The beef should be cooked until it is fully brown and cooked all the way through. Drain the excess fat. Place it back on the stove and add the rest of the pasta sauce. It should be enough to cover the beef and veggies, but not enough to make a soupy sauce. Stir the pasta sauce in and remove from heat once warm. It shouldn’t require much time on the stove to get warm enough.
Preheat your oven to 400F. Assemble all your layers (noodles, beef, cheese and spinach mix) around your casserole dish for easy access. Start by placing the lasagna noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish. Shingle them slightly so there are no gaps. Next, place half the beef on the noodles. Spread it out so it covers corner to corner and is flat. Place another layer of noodles, again shingled so there are no gaps. Now pour your cheese and spinach mixture. Repeat again with noodles and beef, then noodles again. All your filling should be used up, so now it’s time to top the lasagna. After your last layer of noodles, sprinkle of the grated mozzarella cheese over the top. Spread it out evenly so every inch of noodle is covered and there are no big clumps. Take the last 1/2 C of parmesan cheese and sprinkle it over the mozzarella. Time to bake! (If you’re doing two smaller lasagnas, separate your beef into 4 portions and your cheese into 2.)
Take aluminum foil and place it over the top of your lasagna, tenting it up in the middle. Place the dish in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes. Bake until the sauce is bubbling up the sides and the cheese on top is melted and browning.
Remove from the oven, cut, serve and enjoy!
1 lb Ground beef
Garlic powder, italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
1 kg package fresh Cheese and Spinach stuffed ravioli
1 24oz can pasta sauce
320g bag of shredded mozzarella
Place the ground beef in a skillet to brown, add in your spices to taste. 1 Tbsp of each garlic powder and italian seasoning should be a good amount, less of the salt and pepper. Cook pasta according to directions on the bag.
Just like above, place the pasta sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish to prevent the ravioli from sticking. Once the beef is fully browned, drain the fat and add enough pasta sauce to cover the beef without making it too dry or too soupy. Once the pasta is cooked, as above, drain it into a colander and rinse with cold water until you are able to handle it.
Preheat oven to 400F. Start to assemble your lasagna in the casserole dish. Begin by placing a layer of ravioli on the bottom, tight enough that there are almost no gaps, but not too tight that they are squished together. Add half the meat mixture. Repeat the noodle layer and another layer of meat, then a final layer of noodles. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Place foil over the dish, tenting in the middle. Place in oven and bake covered for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. If the top isn’t melted enough, turn the oven onto broil at 400F and cook until the cheese starts to bubble.