I’ve learned that the Southerners think that bringing someone a meal after a family has had a baby, a family emergency or a death in their family is a Southern thing. As a Midwesterner, I always thought it was a Midwest thing. After my babies were born I didn’t cook for weeks. I had amazing friends who set up an online meal train for my family. It was truly the best. Where do you live? Is this something your friends and family have done for you? Is this something you’ve done for others?
This lasagna is one of my favorite things to make and bring to others. When I am making a pan for my family, it’s just as easy to whip up a second pan. It can be prepared in a disposable pan, stored in the fridge or freezer to be baked later, and the leftovers are even better than the first bite! Making lasagna from scratch is much less intimidating than it seems, and for our family we can usually stretch it out over two meals… though that is becoming harder by the day as the boys get bigger! (And this, my friends, is why it’s such a challenge to stick to my grocery budget of $130/week!)
The first time I made a lasagna was when I was pregnant with Lucy and Tony was still playing college football. I followed the directions on the back of the pasta box and Tony and his friend Bee ate the entire pan in one sitting. I really didn’t know how to cook much of anything, so I took it as a huge compliment! Over time I have tweaked and changed things until it became my very own creation. It’s still one of Tony’s favorites.
I usually make this as a veggie version without the ground beef, but my kids prefer it with the ground beef. (They would also prefer it without vegetables, but I have to get them to eat their veggies where I can. If it’s loaded with carbs, cheese and sauce, so be it.) This lasagna can be made without the vegetables or without the meat. I usually make mine with both. You can also add other vegetables to your liking, sub ground pork for the beef, or make it with a combination of both.
I serve mine with a simple side salad – just chopped romaine and Viniagrette. It’s also perfect with a glass of Cabernet and some garlic bread!
Okay, here’s the recipe —
1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium sized (or 2 small) zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium sized (or 2 small) yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 purple onion, diced
1 8oz pkg mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tomato (optional)
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
1 24 oz package of cottage cheese
5 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 jar pasta sauce
1 8oz ball/log fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh basil (for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Thinly slice all veggies. Dice/rough chop onion.
- Sauté diced onion with ground beef. Drain. Set aside.
- In same skillet, heat 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
- Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Add all vegetables and cook until they are soft, but not to the point of soggy!
- While vegetables are cooking, crack one egg into package of cottage cheese and carefully stir in the egg, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Mix ground beef, cooked vegetables and the remainder of the sauce together.
- Shred or carefully peel apart the fresh mozzarella ball.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 sprayed/greased pan. Spread thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of the pan completely.
- Lay three lasagna noodles length wise on the bottom of the pan. The noodles will not touch the edges of the pan. (This is ok! The noodles will expand while cooking)
- Pour 1/3 of the cottage cheese on top of noodles and carefully spread to cover.
- Spread 1/3 meat/veggie/sauce mixture in a layer on top of cottage cheese.
- Place 1/3 of mozzarella cheese on top of sauce layer.
- Repeat steps 11-14 two more times.
16. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, sliced tomato (optional) and a little salt and pepper on top.
17. Cover with foil.
18. Bake, covered at 400 for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbly.
19. Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes before cutting and serving, allowing it time to firm up.
20. Garnish with basil. Cut into 12 squares. Serve!