Last summer when I was pregnant, I was on the prowl for a deliciously satisfying lasagna. My Dad is an amazing cook, and he always made lasagna growing up....but I didn't want to use his recipe. I mean, I was looking for the PERFECT lasagna.
I thought I had found it. It was on the pages of a cookbook of one of my favorite chefs. The tomato sauce was homemade, as was the bechemel sauce. She is Italian (I'm sure you have no idea who I'm talking about). Being Italian I figured she must have this whole lasagna thing figured out...she must have the PERFECT lasagna. In all my 9 month pregnant glory, I toddled around my kitchen cooking for THREE hours to make this lasagna. I wanted to impress my husband and mom-in-law, and I figured after three hours of slaving in the kitchen and making everything from scratch that I would blow them away.
It was a dud. I mean like...it was fine, but it wasn't the PERFECT lasagna. It tasted as good as if I had gone out and bought a frozen one. Which wouldn't have taken me three hours to make, so I was really disappointed.
I attempted a couple other recipes, with no "blowing-me-away-ness".
Last week I was reading The Pioneer Woman Cooks, and I came across her recipe for lasagna. She described it as "The Best Lasagna. Ever". I had heard those claims before, and wouldn't be swayed by it. I browsed through the ingredients...nothing special. She even used Kraft Parmesan Cheese from a can of all things!! I mean, I had made lasagnas from scratch, using the finest of parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, homemade tomato sauce simmered on the stove for hours, etc. And the ingredients she was listing were so everyday, I could whip it up by using the ingredients I had on hand.
I decided to go for it. What could I have to lose but my dignity and the confidence in myself to make a good lasagna? I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! (Thank goodness for my dignity and self-esteem). My husband thought it was amazing too....he had tasted mediocrity before...but this...this was the one. The PERFECT lasagna. This dish really does live up to it's name "The Best Lasagna. Ever." I was so impressed with it, that I made 2 pans of it to take to a friend who just had a baby. They ate it this past week and LOVED it! They said it was amazing. Is that enough of a reason for you to try it? All the good reviews?
I think what really makes this lasagna special is the meat sauce. The Italian sausage is such a perfect addition. It makes the sauce so perfectly seasoned and spiced. Don't skip that part! You can't miss out on the delicious porky goodness.
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz tin of diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp salt
750g container of cottage cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 lb shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup grated parmesan (or Kraft parmesan like PW does it)
8 lasagna noodles
Remove the Italian sausage from it's casing by making a cut all the way down the sausage with a sharp knife. Turn the sausage inside out and the sausage meat inside should just slide out. Brown the Italian sausage, beef and garlic in a fry pan on medium high heat. Drain the fat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tbsp of oregano, 1 tbsp of basil and 1 tsp salt. Stir it up and let it simmer and get all mingled for 30-40 minutes.
Put a pot of salted water on for the lasagna noodles. Bring to a boil and add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking. Boil for 10 minutes (until they are al dente...they should still have some bite). Drain the water and keep the noodles from drying out by covering with a damp towel.
In a separate bowl combine beaten eggs, cottage cheese, 1 tsp of oregano, 1/2 cup of the parmesan and season with salt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When your meat sauce is good and happy, your noodles are cooked and your cottage cheese and shredded mozzarella are ready to go, you can start assembling. Use a 9x13 pan, and assemble lasagna by laying 4 noodles overlapping on bottom of pan. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture on the noodles. Top that with ½ the shredded mozza, and top that with half the beef mixture. Layer another 4 noodles, top with the remaining cottage cheese, rest of beef and rest of mozza. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup of reserved parmesan. You can either pre-make this and store it in your fridge or freezer. If you freeze it, make sure you let it thaw completely and then bake 45-60 minutes or until cooked all the way through. If baking right away, 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Now go enjoy the best lasagna. Ever.
Click here for printable version of Best Lasagna