Monday, October 28, 2013

Candid Cook: Make-Ahead Lasagna

In addition to my chocolate cake mix issues, I'm also a lasagna snob. And while I can eat a frozen lasagna without dissing it, I will never be able to buy one. Lasagna is not hard to make, and you don't have to boil the noodles ahead of time. You know those "oven-ready" lasagna noodles they sell? Biggest. Ripoff. Ever.

So, to assemble your own lasagna, you are going to need a few things.

10-12 raw lasagna noodles
4 cups of spaghetti sauce + 1 cup water mixed in
(If you need a good shortcut spaghetti sauce, stay tuned. I'll post mine one of these days...)

3 cups shredded cheese
16 oz. cottage cheese (can substitute ricotta if desired)
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan (can substitute grated)
2 eggs
Natures Seasons or Salt/pepper

You can also add any extra meat or veggies you have on hand that would taste good in a lasagna. Ground beef or sausage, pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms & peppers, cooked spinach, etc. Whatever floats your boat. Just be sure to cook it first, whether it be meat or veggie.

Essentially, a lasagna is just layers of noodles, cheese, red sauce, meat and/or veggies if desired. Since you already have your noodles, sauce, and meat/veggies ready, let's assemble the cheese blend before we layer.

Combine cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs and Nature's Seasons in a medium mixing bowl.

Then mix in about half of the shredded cheese. If I were grating the cheese fresh myself, I would probably have used just straight mozzarella. However, when I use the "shortcut" pre-shredded cheeses, I always go with the Italian blend. In my experience it melts better.

Now take a greased 9x13 baking dish and spread a thin layer of red sauce on the bottom.

Layer 1/3 of your noodles on top.

Then 1/2 of the cheese mixture.

Because I was making this for my family which includes meat-hater kids, I just put meat on half of my lasagna. In this case, the meat was leftover chopped up meatballs. However, this is the step where you'll put 1/2 of any meat or veggies you want to have in your dish.

Top that with about 1/3 of the remaining red sauce.


Now put on your last 1/3 of the noodles...

...and the rest of the sauce. Admire the pretty layers.

Cover with a double-layer of aluminum foil and stick in your fridge for at least 2 hours. If preferrred, it can sit up to a full day if you want to make this the night before.

When you are ready to bake it, pull it out and stick it in the oven at 375 degrees. Leave the aluminum foil on. You are going to bake it - covered - for about 45 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and take off the foil.

Top it with the rest of the shredded cheese.

Bake an additional 15 minutes or so until the cheese is just starting to brown.

This serves up best if you let it sit for about 30 minutes before you serve it.
I know it will be hard.
But it will be worth it.

Trust me.

1 comment:

Olive said...

I have a different recipe, but I like your idea of letting it sit in the frig for 2 hours or more before baking. I just usually bake it longer. I almost never boil the noodles first.