Is it weird that I feel guilty when I am not able to make J a good home cooked meal? He raves about the fact that I cook for him so much that it’s put me into this place where I feel the urge to make everything from scratch. I love to cook, and I love the fact that I get the chance to experiment in my beautiful kitchen. I love that J eats everything with a smile and cleans up my mess. I get to pretend to be a chef and J benefits from the outcome with a full stomach full of home cooked food. He never complains about ordering food or cheating with store bought items but I know deep down he would prefer my food.
This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind of Canucks Games, stagette shenanigans, and being sick so there has been a lot of eating food not made by yours truly. Due to eating a lot of junk I felt that I had to make J a delicious meal from scratch. We also have a roommate as well who eats like a teenager so I decided to make something that can be filling, and also be used for multiple meals. Lasagna was the first thing that came to mind, and we haven’t had it in a while.
Lasagna is one of those meals that I don’t need a recipe for and always turns out to be amazing! It’s easy, can be frozen if you have lots of leftovers, and tastes even better when you eat it for lunch the next day. My only cheat is the noodles I buy. I don’t make noodles, I don’t buy fresh noodles, or noodles you have to soak before using. I use easy oven ready noodles as this saves a lot of time and taste great. If you hate the noodles process, then buy these, you will thank me!
The sauce that I make is super easy and doesn’t have a lot of complicated ingredients. If you want to add chopped up vegetables or grated carrots or whatever else your heart desires, go for it. Sometimes I add a bunch of mushrooms or I go nuts with chunky onions, and peppers. This time was simplicity.
- 1 Yellow Onion, Diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- ½ tomato paste (optional) I didn’t use, because I didn’t have any
- 2-3 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- ½ tsp fennel seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound Italian sausage
- Salt and Pepper
Heat large pot (big enough to hold everything) with a swig of olive oil on med high heat. Add garlic and Onion, stir until soft, about 10 min. Add in ground beef and sausage, and cook until no longer pink. Drain off grease. Add cans of tomato sauce, diced tomato, and tomato paste. Add oregano, basil, sugar, fennel, pepper flakes, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 30 min. The longer the better. Taste and adjust seasoning. At this point if the sauce looks thick then add 1/3 cup of water and continue to simmer. The sauce should be on the runnier side since the noodles will have to suck up a lot of the sauce. Now, go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350.
Once your sauce is made the rest is easy peasy. Now, I don’t know how a lot of you feel about ricotta cheese, but I am hit or miss on it. I substitute my ricotta with cottage cheese and find that it produces a great flavour. Ricotta is more traditional and heartier so go ahead with that; I am a cottage cheese girl myself. This time I tried something different and blended my spinach with my cottage cheese. Normally I just pile it all but since I had the food processor out I gave it a whirl, literally. I then used my food processor to grate all my mozzarella to make an easy assembly line.
You’ll have to grease your pan first; I just spread around some olive oil. I have seen parchment used too. DO whatever is best for you.
Then you’ll have to pour in a good amount of sauce in the bottom of your pan. This will make sure the first layer of your noodles get cooked evenly. Like I said, these noodles will suck up the sauce so we don’t want to be skimpy.
Then you put your noodles down and start the laying process!
Cover with tinfoil and cook for 45-50 min. I like to leave my lasagne covered for only half the cooking time because I like my cheese to brown slightly on the top. It holds everything together and looks very appetizing.
When the lasagne is done, let it sit for at least 10 min. The noodles will continue to soak up sauce and it won’t be as scolding to eat but still very warm. While you’re waiting make a salad or garlic bread!
This was a success and I can’t imagine ever really screwing this up. It can be altered as well in so many ways that lasagne nights will always give you something great!