Superbowl is coming up! What are you going to make for the game? One of my family’s favorite food that they request often is lasagna! They LOVE it! Really, who doesn’t? For football parties, birthday parties, holidays, and any other social events, it is an easy and filling dish. It is tasty, satisfying and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Besides, this is a dish you can make a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. For that reason alone, I keep multiple 21 x 13 inch disposable aluminum pans on hand. I purchase them from Gordon Foods and store them until I need them. They are the perfect size for doubling a regular 9 x 13 recipe. (I don’t like being accused of not bringing enough food for everyone as you can see). I am able to get 20 large servings out of one pan and it takes a really hungry person to be able to come back for seconds! For most people, one serving is plenty.
I offered to bring a meal and a cake for my father-in-law’s birthday this weekend. I was torn at what to make since I knew I would need to make something that would travel easily (my husband’s family lives two hours away). I also knew with my schedule that I would need to make it ahead of time and could just heat it up when I got there. I wanted something filling since I knew we would be there all day and I didn’t want the kids to be hungry on the way home. No one wants a suburban full of hungry kids on a two hour drive home! Lasagna was the perfect fit! And let me tell you, it was a big hit! Like I said, it serves 20 and there were only 13 of us and nothing left over. My mother-in-law liked it so much that she asked if I would make it for her birthday in a few weeks! Success!!!
The base layer of this lasagna is a thin layer of sauce, just enough to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pan. I then use a pattern of noodles, cheese sauce, pasta sauce and repeat!
The picture above shows a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom, a layer of noodles and about half of the cheese sauce on top. I find it is easiest to spread the cheese sauce right on the noodles when they are slightly under cooked (al dente).
The next step is to add the pasta sauce. Usually, I use a ladle to scoop about 1/3 of the pasta sauce on and then spread it out with a rubber spatula. I try not to press so hard that I blend the cheese sauce and pasta sauce together. After the pasta sauce, it is time for another row of noodles. I try to make sure my noodles are all touching from end to end and side to side so that every piece is proportionate to the others. I know, I can be pretty particular when it comes to my cooking! It took 10 noodles total to cover one layer of this size pan.
After two patterns of noodles, cheese sauce and pasta sauce are completed there should still be pasta sauce left over. I use the pasta sauce to cover one more layer of noodles on top.
The Mozzarella, Romano and Parmasen blend top off this lasagna!
After heating this large pan for 45 minutes covered with foil and 15 minutes uncovered at 350 degrees, you are left with a beautiful mouth watering, heavy, homemade satisfying tray of lasagna! Make sure you use a cookie sheet to help support this aluminum pan because it will be heavy!
INGREDIENTS: (you can divide in half for a 9 x 13 inch pan)
2 boxes lasagna noodles
4 lbs. hamburger
14 large garlic cloves minced
1 t. black pepper
3 (24 ounce) cans of pasta sauce
1 quart (32 ounces/4 cups) of diced tomatoes (I used tomatoes and peppers)
30 ounces Ricotta Cheese
1-1/2 c. Cottage Cheese (you can use all Ricotta or all Cottage Cheese, if you wish)
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
2 T. Parsley
1 T. dried basil
1-1/2 t. fresh minced basil
1/2 c. Parmesan and Romano mixed (you can use all Parmesan if you cannot find the mix)
SPRINKLE ON TOP:
additional 3/4 c. Parmesan and Romano mix
2-1/2 c. Mozzarella and Provolone mix (you can use all mozzarella if need be)
Brown the meat and garlic together until all the meat is crumbled and the garlic is soft. Drain the fat off of the meat. Add the black pepper, pasta sauce and diced tomatoes. Stir well. Cook a large pot of water on high to cook the noodles. Add 2 T. of vegetable oil to the water so that the noodles do not stick together when they cook. Pour the noodles into the pot of hot water and remove the noodles when they become soft but still firm (al dente). Pour the noodles in a colander and rinse them with cold water. Let them cool.
In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, dried basil, fresh basil and the Parmesan and Romano cheese.
Cover the bottom of the pan lightly (1 or 2 ladles) with the pasta sauce. Lay the noodles (about 10) over the pasta sauce. Then cover the noodles with half of the Ricotta cheese mixture. Cover the Ricotta mixture with one third of the pasta sauce. Repeat a second time ending with the pasta sauce mixture. Leave enough pasta sauce to cover a third layer of noodles. After covering the third layer of noodles with pasta sauce, sprinkle the Parmesan and Romano and Mozzarella cheese over the top of the lasagna and cover it with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover the lasagna and cook for fifteen more minutes. You can let it cool and refrigerate it to serve later or serve immediately. Enjoy!