{make} make-ahead lasagna

lasagna 1J & I have loved almost every recipe we’ve tried out of Sarah Copeland’s The Newlywed Cookbook.  It was a great gift from my bridal shower and for every recipe we’ve tried, we’ve added the date of our try and our own notes for the next time.  Sarah Copeland is all about cooking for each other.  For me, cooking is a great stress reliever.  I love to eat good food and going through the effort of making something with fresh ingredients.  This was the first time I made homemade sauce and it turned out great!! I was so glad we had a little extra to freeze.

lasagna 2

Make-Ahead Lasagna

Marinara Ingredients: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 4 garlic cloves smashed, (2) 32-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes with juice, 2 bay leaves, pinch of dried thyme, 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh basil, 1 tsp sea salt, freshly ground pepper.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes, crushing through your fingers as you pour them in pan.  Add the bay leaves, dried thyme, and basil and cook until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with wooden spoon to break down.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pull out and discard bay leaves and basil.  Makes about 4 cups.  About 2 1/2 will be used for lasagna and left to freeze.

Notes: This was messy.  It was the first time I actually needed an apron and by the time I put it on, the damage was done.  I crushed that tomato juice straight on to my shirt, the stove, and the floor.  I also added some good quality Italian seasoning to the sauce (and by some, I mean a lot.  there isn’t anything worse than making a great recipe that isn’t the greatest simply because it was seasoned lightly.  I always go heavy on seasoning, but this is a personal taste).

Lasagna Ingredients: iodized salt, 8 oz lasagna noodles, 1 lb beef, (1) 16-ounce container whole milk cottage cheese, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup fresh parmesan, freshly ground black pepper, 8oz fresh mozzarella cheese, 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 16oz shredded).

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook lasagna according to package instructions.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add beef.  Cook until browned.  Drain excess fat.
4. In medium bowl mis together the cottage cheese, eggs, and parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

lasagna 4
5. Slice fresh mozzarella as thin as possible and season lightly with salt (drain on paper towel).
6.  Lightly brush ovenproof pan with oil.  Line with drained noodles and add 1/3 of sauce and half cottage cheese mixture.  Sprinkle on half the meat and top with a layer of mozzarella.  Repeat with remaining noodles, another third of sauce, and remaining cottage cheese mixture and meat.  Finish with any remaining sauce and finally the slices of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle on remaining parmesan cheese.
7.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking until cheese bubbles and lasagna is warmed through, 20 minutes more.  Let cool 15 minutes before slicing.

Notes: Emphasis on the 15 minutes before slicing.  Mine was runny since I sliced it too soon.  J & I have been feasting on leftovers all week.  The best part about these leftovers is when they were served on the couch, while watching the last 3 episodes of the final season of White Collar, followed by dessert drink Bulldogs.  I’d definitely make this and freeze it to have on hand for an easy and quick meal!

Happy making!

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