Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quick and Easy Lasagna

(Photo disclaimer - this photo is not indicative of the yumminess of this recipe. I forgot to take a photo when the lasagna was fresh and steaming hot from the oven. This is my left-overs for lunch photo)

I always thought that lasagna was a difficult, time intensive, and intimidating dish. About 12 years ago, I learned that lasagna could be made without pre-cooking the noodles (or purchasing fancy 'no-cook noodles'). I also learned that I could use prepared spaghetti sauce to speed up the preparation time and ease as well.

This is the recipe I've developed over the years for quick and EASY lasagna. I like to add spinach to mine, but it is just as easy to leave out. The juices from the spaghetti sauce hydrate the noodles so that this turns out perfectly, with minimal mess or fuss. This can be made and refrigerated 24 hours in advance and baked just prior to serving.

Spinach Lasagna
(Serves 12 - 14)

2 large boxes lasagna noodles (uncooked)
1 4 lb. jar Prego traditional spaghetti sauce
1 lb. cottage or ricotta cheese (or half cottage and half ricotta)
2 c. mozzarella cheese – shredded
½ c. parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 t. dried basil
1 t. parsley
1 t. garlic powder
Fresh spinach
1-2 lbs. sausage, cooked and drained (or substitute w/ hamburger, add 1 t. fennel while cooking)

While meat is cooking, in a medium sized bowl, mix cottage/ricotta cheese, 1 c. mozzarella cheese, ¼ c. parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, garlic, and parsley together.

Spray large glass cooking pan with cooking spray (or two 9x13 pans) and apply a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Place a layer of uncooked noodles on top of sauce. Cover with a layer of the cheese mixture. Add a layer of fresh spinach, and top this with a layer of spaghetti sauce. Repeat several times. After last layer of noodles is placed, cover with a final thin layer of spaghetti sauce and then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350* for 1 hour so that the cheese melts and begins to form a slight crust. Place foil over lasagna (so that the cheese doesn't burn)and allow to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes. (Before removing from oven, pierce with a knife to ensure that the noodles are completely cooked).

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving.
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