This actually might be my husband’s FAVORITE dish I make. Yesterday he said “what do I have to do to have lasagna for dinner tomorrow?”. He literally took out the tomatoes from the freezer, pre-cut the onion, grated the carrot, thawed the beef and promised to be home directly after work to help complete it. I must say, doing the few minutes of prep the night before made the dish a breeze! Still take about an hour to complete but when you make a large batch of it, it is WELL WORTH THE EFFORT. And if you have kids or fussy eaters, you can hide the following vegetables in here: carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, spinach, kale leaves, beet leaves and if you are adventurous try cauliflower or broccoli!
You will need for a large 15×11 pan:
15 favorite lasagna noodles (we use whole wheat) OR 2 zucchini sliced thin lengthwise
2 large cans of crushed organic tomatoes + 2 cans of sauce +/or some from your garden
1-2 organic carrots
1 organic zucchini if not using in place of noodles
a few handfuls of fresh spinach or 1 frozen organic block of spinach
1 large onion
1 large tub of organic cottage cheese (we use Avalon from Choices Market)
2lbs of ground beef or turkey or ground veggie alternative (optional)
2+ kinds of your favorite cheese – white cheddar, asiago, feta, mozza all work well
your favorite spices including cayenne pepper
Night or Morning Prep (10 min):
Cut up onion in small pieces, grate carrot and put in the same container in the fridge
Thaw anything that is frozen overnight
Pull out one frying pan, one sauce pot and one large pot for boiling noodles
Pull out large pan to combine. 15×11 in this instance.
Have a good sleep or nap.
***About an hour before dinner turn oven to 350 and start boiling large pot of water. Then you can start cooking:
1. Sauce First. Simmer everything tomato (we used whole tomatoes and 2 cans of sauce and then pureed the large pieces together with a hand stick blender for about a minute). Brown any meat you may be using. For best flavor, put carrot and onions in with tomato sauce early to simmer then add browned meat and simmer over medium-low for the remainder of the time. (If in a hurry, sauté the onion and carrots with the beef to soften then add to tomato pot.) Spice it up! I used Costco’s organic no-salt seasoning and cayenne pepper. Let it intensify and it will look like this:
2. Add noodle to water and cook to almost al dente. They will finish in the oven, so do not boil until fully soft. Mix entire tub of cottage cheese, about half a cup of cheese of your choice and some spinach in a bowl while these are cooking. Slice up zucchini in thin discs or long thin slices. You are ready to combine!!!!!
3. The layering part is my favorite. My husband like MANY layers but it’s your choice. Here is our version: Start with a thin layer of sauce so nothing will stick to the bottom. Here is your order from the bottom up: thin sauce layer, 5 noodle layer, 1/2 red sauce layer, 5 noodle layer, handfuls of spinach layer, full cottage cheese or “white sauce for kids” layer, 5 noodles, zucchini layer, remaining sauce, remaining grated cheese. Of course, you can modify this any way you want based on your supply and any other veggies you want to incorporate.
4. Bake for 20-30min to heat throughout and broil cheese for 2 minutes at the end. Let sit a moment or serve immediately because WHO CAN WAIT?
This is what it looks like after a family of 2 + baby dig in!
YOU ARE LUCKY IF THERE ARE LEFTOVERS!!!!!!!!!!!! Try it!