awesome lasagna recipe

I think I’ve only posted recipes once or twice before, but my lasagna is one of the things I’m proudest of, so I’ve decided to share the recipe. Keep in mind the quantities are HUGE because I make two lasagnas and then freeze one for later.

You need:
* 2 packages of no-boil lasagna noodles
* 4 eggs (you can use egg substitute, doesn’t make much difference)
* 30 ounces of ricotta cheese (some stores have the jumbo 30-oz. container; if not, get two 15-ounces)
* 8 cups (32 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
* 1 package grated Parmesan cheese (about a cup, I think?)
* 2 – 2.5 pounds of ground beef (I buy the extra-lean stuff)
* 3 jars of marinara sauce; I use the generic store brand, usually the “flavored with meat” kind
* One small bunch of fresh spinach, chopped (no specific amount, just personal preference)
* 1 package (8 ounces) of sliced mushrooms, chopped
* Either an eggplant or 2 zucchinis (whatever your preference; I’ve done it both ways & it’s great either way), diced into pretty small chunks
* Salt, garlic, basil, oregano

To cook it:
1. Cook the beef and drain it. Put the beef back into the pot, add 2 1/2 jars of marinara sauce (leave 1/2 of one jar for later), and add the mushrooms and eggplant/zucchini. Let it simmer for a LOOOONG time. Like at least an hour. You want the meat to get really tender, and the veggies to cook down to the point where they’re basically unrecognizable (at least to your average 2 year-old, who’s part of my target demographic when cooking this dish). Add garlic, basil, and oregano while it’s cooking.

2. In an extra-large mixing bowl, combine your eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan, and half of your mozzarella (so, 4 cups/16 ounces). Also mix in your chopped spinach, and add a little salt.

3. Get two 9×13 baking dishes. Spray with Pam, and then divide that last 1/2 jar of marinara sauce to cover the bottom of the dishes (keeps the bottom noodles from getting dried out & crunchy). Then comes the fun part: putting it all together. Your layers should go like this:
* One layer of no-boil lasagna noodles
* Meat/veggie/sauce mix
* Ricotta/spinach mix
* Mozzarella cheese (part of that other 4 cups you had lying around)

Repeat, and that should just about use up your ingredients. You can make it a 3-layer lasagna if you like, but I think that usually ends up being way too dense and it just doesn’t taste quite as good. But, you know, to each their own.

4. Take one of those dishes, cover with foil and put in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. Then, take the foil off and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. (Disclaimer: my oven is kind of weak, so I usually end up bumping the temp up to 450 degrees for those last 15 minutes because I like the cheese to get all golden brown on top.)

5. For the other lasagna, cover with heavy-duty foil (if your 9×13 dish has a lid, all the better) and put it in the freezer. When you want to cook it, you can either let it defrost for two days in the fridge (which I usually don’t have patience for), or you can put it in the oven at 250 degrees for about 60-90 minutes to thaw it out completely before you cook it.

This is one of my favorites because it’s an all-in-one meal. It’s loaded with meat & cheese (protein, yay!) and it’s also chock full of veggies. It’s been taste-tested by two different toddlers (namely, Catie & her cousin Elizabeth) and they both love it and clean their plates when it’s served. So if you have kids, that’s definitely a bonus.

Bon appetit!
P.S. I’ll get back to real blogging soon, I promise.

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