I’m always intending to make lasagna but never actually getting around to making it.
There’s a reason for this.
I realized the reason while putting this recipe together:
Homemade lasagna takes some work to pull off!
About halfway through the process – dishes piled high, spilled tomato sauce on the counter, Calvin (my eternally hungry beagle) darting after grated cheese that finds its way onto the floor – I always have to question if the labor is worth it.
But after tasting that first delicious, warm bite, the answer’s always “yes,” for two reasons:
1) There’s nothing that will compare to digging into a plate of fresh-from-the-oven homemade lasagna, and this a truth that likely everyone in the household can agree upon.
2) You really get two dinners for one with this effort. Make the lasagna on a Sunday evening when you have time to spare, and you’ll have leftovers for dinner later in the week (or double the recipe and freeze the second lasagna for a day when you don’t have time to cook).
Make It Vegetarian: this three-cheese recipe does have ground beef, but you can easily make it vegetarian by swapping out the meat and doubling up on the veggies instead.
(For the complete, printable recipe, scroll down to the bottom of the page.)
Here are the main ingredients you’ll need to get started.
Begin by prepping some veggies.
Mince a few cloves of garlic and dice one onion.
Also dice up a bell pepper.
Chop up some mushrooms too.
Next up: the cheese!
I use a combo of provolone and parmesan for maximum flavor (so you don’t have to pile on a ton to get that rich, salty, cheesy taste you crave.)
There’s a lot of cheese involved in this eight-serving lasagna, which is a very good thing in the end, but an unfortunate thing during the time-consuming grating process.
There are three options for getting through:
1) Look at the positive side – it’s truly an “arm workout”
2) See if you can get someone else in the household “to help for a minute,” and hand them the cheese grater (this trick only works once before that individual learns that “helping for a minute” = an arm workout)
3) Buy pre-shredded cheese at the store – my favorite option for saving some time!
Then grab a mixing bowl and toss in some non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese, a bit of that grated parmesan, and a pinch of dried thyme.
Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix it up.
Now, if you are anything like Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy (NOT a fan of cottage cheese), please rest assured.
You can’t actually taste the cottage cheese in this recipe.
It just helps to add rich, creamy flavor without a lot of extra calories and fat.
I’ve been buying organic cottage cheese these days.
More and more research keeps emerging on organic dairy as an important source of Omega-3’s.
People are reaching for Omega-3 supplements today because of the huge number of emerging health benefits. Omega-3s have been shown to: reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, protect the heart, boost mood, and promote healthy, clear skin.
And the latest study has found that organic milk has 62% more Omega-3’s than conventional milk!
The reason: organic cattle are able to graze outdoors on grass, which is what they’d eat in nature. This leads to a healthy balance of omega-3s in the animal products we eat. Conventional cattle are typically kept indoors and fed a corn- and soy-based feed, which turns out to be bad for the cattle and for us.
Just look for the USDA Organic label on dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Next, grab a large stock pot, fill it about halfway with water, and boil.
Salt the water, and toss in some whole wheat lasagna noodles.
Also add some oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Cook until the noodles are almost al dente and drain them (they’ll finish cooking in the oven later).
While the noodles are cooking away, grab a large skillet, heat it over medium-high heat, and add some grass-fed ground beef.
Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat and stir.
Toss in the garlic, onion, and bell pepper.
Or Make It Vegetarian: just skip the ground beef and double up on the vegetables, using two peppers and two containers of mushrooms.
Season everything with a bit of salt and pepper and cook until the meat is nicely browned and the veggies are softened.
Turn down the heat to medium.
Add the mushrooms along with a few ingredients that help flavor the tomato sauce: tomato paste, oregano, and thyme.
Also add a bit of organic honey, which is a secret ingredient that helps balance out the acidity of the tomato sauce.
Then add one more secret ingredient:
As you stir, the wine will break up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Allow the wine to reduce down as it cooks – – the aroma is irresistible!
Add some strained tomatoes (or tomato purée).
Taste the sauce and season it to your liking with salt and pepper.
Next up, the fun (and messy!) part: assemble the lasagna!
Preheat the oven to 385 degrees F.
Spread a very thin layer of the meat sauce across the bottom of a large casserole dish.
This is helpful for keeping the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Place one layer of lasagna noodles over the meat, so that they cover the length of the pan without overlapping too much (just trim the edges with a knife if they’re not fitting perfectly).
Arrange half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles by small spoonfuls, so that it’s evenly distributed over the noodles.
Then spread half of the remaining meat sauce mixture over the cottage cheese.
Sprinkle half of the provolone and half of the remaining parmesan all over the meat sauce.
Repeat the process one more time through, adding another layer of noodles and using up the remaining cottage cheese mixture and meat sauce.
Top it all off with the rest of the provolone and parmesan, and then it’s off to the oven.
When the cheese is melted and gooey and lightly bubbling, you’re almost done.
You’ve officially reached the toughest part of the whole lasagna-making process:
Convincing members of the household (eternally hungry beagles included) to wait several minutes more to allow the delicious-smelling dish to cool down before eating.
Nothing compares to homemade meat sauce, flavored with red wine, fresh veggies, and tasty herbs.
It’s the perfect comforting, fresh-from-the-oven meal to close out a leisurely weekend on a positive note.
Everyone will truly savor and appreciate all of the love (i.e. effort) that goes into this delicious, comforting lasagna.
But here’s the other benefit:
This is one of those priceless, rare dishes where the leftovers are almost better than the original (the flavors in the meat sauce continue to meld so deliciously in the fridge).
Which means you’ve got a homemade dish for zero-effort and zero-time-involved later in the week!
Here is the complete, printable recipe:
- Serving size: 8
- Calories: 392
- Fat: 15.5g
- Saturated fat: 8.7g
- Trans fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 23.8g
- Sugar: 8.7g
- Sodium: 592g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 35.7g
- Cholesterol: 83mg
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- 1 cup organic nonfat cottage cheese
- ⅔ cup Parmesan, grated
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 6 whole wheat lasagna noodles
- 1 pound 100% grass-fed (or 100% pasture-raised) ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons organic honey
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ cup red wine
- 16 ounces strained tomatoes (or tomato purée)
- 2 cups Provolone cheese, grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To a mixing bowl, add the cottage cheese, ⅓ cup of parmesan, and 1 teaspoon thyme.
- Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir until well combined, and set aside.
- Boil a large pot of water. Salt the water, and add lasagna noodles. Add a bit of oil to keep the noodles from sticking together. Cook the noodles until they're almost al dente (they will finish cooking in the oven), and drain.
- Meanwhile, add the ground beef to a large skillet and adjust heat to medium-high. Break up the meat using a wooden spoon, and immediately add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until the meat is browned and the veggies are softened. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the mushrooms, tomato paste, honey, oregano, and 1 tablespoon thyme. Stir to combine. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to cook and reduce for about 2-4 minutes. Add the strained tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 385 degrees F.
- Spread a very thin layer of the meat sauce across the bottom of a large casserole dish (suggested size: 9X13)
- Arrange three lasagna noodles over the meat, so that they cover the length of the pan.
- Spoon half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles so that it's evenly distributed.
- Spoon half of the remaining meat sauce mixture over the cottage cheese.
- Sprinkle half of the provolone and half of the remaining parmesan all over the meat sauce.
- Repeat, adding another layer of noodles, then cottage cheese mixture, then meat sauce, and finally the remaining provolone and parmesan.
- Bake in the oven until cheese is melted and lightly bubbling.
- Allow the lasagna to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Serve.