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rustic weeknight lasagna

Kenny’s favorite lasagna. A rich, meaty entree that makes perfect leftovers and feeds at least 6 hungry people.

Ingredients

Meat sauce:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 medium yellow onions (finely diced)

5 cloves garlic (minced)

2 lb 85% lean ground beef

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 28-oz can plum tomatoes (whole, peeled, and unsalted)

½ cup curly parsley (leaves only, chopped)

Cheese layer:

1 egg (beaten)

1 16oz tub whole milk cottage cheese (you can use ricotta but my mom always made her lasagna with cottage cheese. It tastes delicious and it’s more cost effective)

1 Cup grated parmesan

¼ Cup fresh parsley

¼ Cup fresh basil

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 package no-boil lasagna noodles

12oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed shallow pot (or a dutch oven) over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions to the oil and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the onions are translucent but not browned,  about 8 minutes. Due to differences in stovetops, lower the heat to medium if the the onions are browning too quickly. The large quantity of onions will cause a lot of steam so it might take a few minutes for the onions to release enough liquid, be patient.

Add the garlic to the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the pan and increase the heat to high. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces as it cooks until the meat is no longer pink.

Drain all the liquid and fat that has accumulated in the pot and return the meat to the stove top.

Add salt, pepper, and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste has coated the ground beef, about 4 minutes.

Add the plum tomatoes and their juices to the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.

Allow the sauce to simmer while you break the tomatoes in half using a wooden spoon. You can also use clean kitchen scissors to quickly cut the tomatoes in half right in the pot. Add the chopped parsley and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

While the sauce simmers, prepare the cheese layer:

In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, salt and pepper until well combined – set aside.

Assemble the lasagna:

Spread 1 Cup of the meat sauce (avoiding the big chunks of tomato) in the bottom of a 13X9 casserole dish that is at least 2 inches deep. 

Place 1 even layer of noodles over the meat sauce in the dish, making sure not to overlap the edges (you can break noodles into pieces to make sure they fit the shape of the dish without overlapping).

Layer half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles, spreading it evenly over the noodles. 

Spread ⅓ of the meat sauce (with tomato chunks) evenly over the cottage cheese layer.

Sprinkle 4 oz of mozzarella cheese over the top of the meat mixture.

Repeat layering of noodles, the rest of the cottage cheese, ½ of the remaining meat sauce, and 4 oz of mozzarella cheese.

Lay one more layer of lasagna noodles and top with the rest of the meat sauce, making sure the edges of the noodles are covered.

Top with 4oz of mozzarella cheese. 

Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna and put the covered lasagna in the oven on the middle rack. 

Place a large cookie sheet on the rack below the lasagna to catch any sauce that bubbles over.

Bake the lasagna for 20minutes, then remove foil and continue cooking the lasagna uncovered until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes longer. 

Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15-20 minutes at room temperature, top with basil and serve!

Notes