There are a million ways to make lasagne, and everybody thinks theirs is the best (of course). Well, I guess I’m as guilty as the next guy! I ADORE Italian flavours. Basil, tomatoes, cheese… I mean, what is there not to love? Pour me a glass of wine, put on some Dean Martin and I’m in heaven! Now, this may not be in the same health rank as a kale salad, but it is truly comfort food at its finest and I truly believe in everything in moderation.
Pair this meal with a simple fresh salad to round it out.
- 12-16 dried lasagne noodles (enough to line your pan with 4 layers)
- 2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup)
Cottage Cheese Layer:
- 1-750g container 2% cottage cheese, drained*
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt and pepper
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach, well drained
- 2 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- ¾ c. good red wine
- 4 large tomatoes, diced
- 1-14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- Parmesan rind (approx. 2×2” piece) – optional
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 large balls of fresh mozzarella cheese (bococcini), sliced
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the lasagne noodles in a big pot of salted boiling water until al dente (firm to the bite). Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.
- Place the cottage cheese in a seive or fine colander to drain for at least 30 minutes to remove the extra liquid. Once drained, mix the cottage cheese with the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, egg, drained spinach and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the meat for 3-5 minutes or until it starts to nicely brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. If your meat is extra lean you may need to add a teaspoon or two of olive oil.
- Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until the meat is fully browned and the onions and garlic are transparent and fragrant.
- Add the red wine to the pan and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, then add the fresh tomatoes and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the can of diced tomatoes, rosemary and Parmesan rind. Cook for approximately 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes are cooked.
- Add the fresh basil, salt, pepper and stir until incorporated. Remove and discard the parmesan rind.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Oil (with olive oil) a 9×13″ baking pan, and line the bottom with a single layer of noodles to cover. Spread a layer of the meat sauce (1/2 of the sauce) on the noodles. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and 1/2 of one of the mozzarella balls (sliced) on top and add another layer of noodles.
- Spread the next layer with the cottage cheese mixture and lay 1/2 of the basil leaves flat on top of this layer. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the meat sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan and the other half of one of the sliced mozzarella balls, and finish with the last layer of noodles.
- Top the last layer of noodles with the remaining fresh basil leaves and the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese and bake for about 45 minutes until it is bubbling and golden. You may want to broil the top of the lasagne at the end if you want to brown it more.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.