What would a buffet or potluck supper be without lasagna - that deep-down, soul satisfying dish of baked bubbly cheese, herby tomato sauce and rippled pasta? Unlike other dishes that wax and wane - favoured one year, crossed off menus the next - lasagna grows ever more popular. But it's not just more lasagna we want, it's better, easier-to-make lasagna. And that's what you'll get with this step-by-step lesson.
1/2 lb (250 g) lasagna noodles
1 pkg (300 g) chopped spinach, thawed and squeeze dried
2 cups (500 mL) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (50 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb (250 g) Italian sausage
1/2 lb (250 g) ground beef
1 each onion, carrot and celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp each dried oregano and basil
Pinch hot pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes (undrained)
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) tomato sauce
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
2 cups (500 mL) cottage cheese
1 cup (250 mL) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Meat Filling: Remove sausage from casing; crumble meat. In Dutch oven , cook sausage and beef over medium-high heat, breaking up with back of spoon, for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink; remove to plate. Spoon off all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) fat from pot.
2. Cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, basil and hot pepper flakes, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and meat; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, breaking up tomatoes and stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Add pepper.
3. Cheese Filling: In bowl, beat together eggs, pepper and nutmeg. Blend in cottage cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan.
4. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles for 6 to 8 minutes or until almost tender. Drain and place in cold water. Arrange in single layer on damp tea towel.
5. Spread I cup (250 mL) of the meat filling as base in greased 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish. Top with one-third of the noodles in single layer; spread with one-third of the remaining meat filling. Spread with half of the cheese filling, then half of the spinach. Starting with noodles, repeat layers once.
6. Top with remaining noodles; spread with remaining meat filling. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover loosely with foil; bake in 375F (190C) oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Test Kitchen tips: To make lasagna ahead of time, assemble and refrigerate it, unbaked, for up to 1 day; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
To be sure lasagna is heated through, insert knife into centre of lasagna, then test heat of knife on palm of your hand.