Lasagna is not easy to make. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “but, you haven’t tried mine.”

Lasagna can be made a thousand different ways. 

That’s the problem—everyone has strong preferences on how to make the perfect lasagna. Some people use sausage vs. ground beef. Then, there’s cheese. Do you like cottage cheese or ricotta? Do you mix in an egg? Traditionally, lasagna is topped with mozzarella cheese, but I’ve eaten it with provolone and even Monterey Jack. Do you cook your noodles ahead of time or do you use the “no cook” kind? What kind of sauce do you use? Traditional or bolonese? Is it chunky? The list goes on and on. 

Lasagna is tricky. You’re dealing with people’s preferences. It’s subjective. It seems impossible to keep everyone happy.

10 years-ago I would have never dreamt of make lasagna for dinner guests, knowing how picky people can be about the ingredients. The last thing I want to see is a guest pushing food around his or her plate.

For years, I was notorious for changing up my lasagna recipe. Perfection was my goal. Sometimes it wouldn’t turn out. It always tasted good, but it could end up a gloppy pile of unidentifiable ingredients. Other times it would separate, and puddles of unappetizing liquid would appear making my lasagna look like it was swimming. 

This recipe stuck after my one of my son’s girlfriend announced, after one bite, “This is the best lasagna, but don’t tell my mom, she thinks hers is the best.”

People like this lasagna. It’s simple, mild, and not chunky. There is a lot happening with layers and flavors. Don’t add chunks of tomatoes or other veggies like onions because it could be one of the reasons why lasagna is watery. 

This is the perfect recipe—one you can change and add what you like. Feel free to add sausage or switch out some ricotta for the cottage cheese. 

For more information about “How to cook the best lasagna” and other recipes, please visit my website www.wildchowrecipes.com

The Best Lasagna 

For the sauce:

1 – 29 ounce can of tomato puree

1 – 6 once can of tomato paste

1 cup good quality red wine  

1 lb. ground beef

½ cup water

½ tbsp. Italian seasoning

½ tbsp. basil, plus 1 tsp—divided 

1 tsp. garlic 

2 tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. salt 

¼ tsp pepper flakes or ground pepper

1 ½ tbsp sugar

2 ½ cups mozzarella cheese

1 package oven ready lasagna noodles

1 – 16 ounce container of cottage cheese

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs

In a large saucepan, brown the ground beef. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomato puree, water, paste, salt, sugar, and spices—reserving 1 tsp of the basil for the cottage cheese mixture. Simmer over very low heat for 40 minutes; stirring frequently. Cool slightly and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375º

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, and remaining basil. Mix thoroughly. Set aside. 

In a 9 x 13 glass baking pan, spoon a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Place 3 sheets of the oven ready noodles on the sauce and spoon some more sauce over the noodles. Top with a few scoops of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the sauce, then sprinkle with about 2/3 cup of the mozzarella. Repeat for the next two layers. For the last layer of noodles, cover only with sauce and top with the remaining mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes until lasagna is set and serve. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes by emailing her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

 

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