Lasagna – Quick, Easy, and Freezable
Lasagna–friend or foe?
We love lasagna in our house but it sure is a lot of trouble to prepare with cooking the sauce–cooking the noodles–mixing up all the layers–and then assembling the casserole–not to mention the clean up! As a result, through the years, Lasagna Night has been a big treat. Yes, I know you can buy it frozen in the grocery but sorry, my family is picky and they want theirs cooked from scratch.
Quest for quick and easy
About a year ago, I went on a quest for an easier way to prepare lasagna and after several stabs and recipes from my recipe box, I did it!! And, you can skip two big steps–cooking the sauce and cooking the noodles. Just make sure to chop the onions fine in a food processor. Also, don’t skip on the water as the dry uncooked noodles need the water to absorb so the casserole won’t be dry. If you don’t want to take the time to finely chop the onions, then brown them with the meat.
When I finally nailed the recipe, I took it to my sister’s for a family dinner. That’s the true test as my family pulls no punches. Every recipe from No Time 2 Cook has passed the Kurr/Patterson quality test and believe me when I say that is the most stringent test of all. My family can be brutal when it comes to critiquing recipes and I’m right in there with them. Don’t believe me? Just ask my kids and what its like going out to eat with one of us–but I digress. This lasagna was a huge hit and passed with flying colors.
Name brand canned tomatoes vs. store brand
I’m a store brand shopper in most cases especially when it comes to canned goods. For a year, I made this lasagna with store brand crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and it was perfect. When I was preparing for my Facebook Live Cooking Class, I used named brand tomatoes which were the only canned products available at my grocery after the ice storm. The lasagna made with the name brand was not as good as ones I’ve made with store brand tomatoes. It was too thick and tomatoey. Also, the onions were not quite done and the noodles were a little tough. Therefore, I highly recommend using store brand canned tomatoes which tend to be thinner than name brand.
Which meat is best?
The meat you choose is a personal preference. My family and I personally prefer ground chuck over Italian Sausage. We’re not big fans of fennel which is found in Italian Sausage. However, if you’re a fan you might prefer using Italian sausage for your meat. I haven’t tried ground turkey but that is also an option if you tend to avoid beef and pork.
I keep the spices pretty simple in the filling as that’s the way my family likes it. However, you can experiment with the addition of fennel and Italian seasoning in yours. Also, since I don’t cook my sauce I use powdered bay instead of bay leaves. You can find this spice on Amazon. I love bay and have enjoy using bay powder in other dishes as well. It’s been a nice addition to my spice rack.
The perfect lasagna
That’s it–the perfect quick and easy Lasagna. And as an added benefit, it can be prepared and frozen weeks ahead then cooked from frozen to serve fresh. Or, it can be cooked, cooled, cut, and frozen in individual microwaveable servings.
Now there’s no need for your family to wait for a special Lasagna night–they can have Lasagna as much as their hearts desire or waists allows.
As a Home Economist and Child Development Specialist, Karen is passionate about bringing families back to the dinner table. Just like the recipes she shares, No Time 2 Cook products are cooked from scratch and taste like home-made.
9 Lasagna noodles (1/2 box)
1# Ground chuck and/or Italian pork sausage (browned)
6 oz. can tomato paste (store brand works best)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (store brand works best)
1 med. onion (finely chopped or chopped in food processor)
3 T “Better Than Bouillon” Beef Base
1 1/2 cups water
2 T fresh minced garlic or granulated garlic
1 T dried oregano leaves
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. sugar
1/4 t. ground bay leaf
16 oz. cottage cheese
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Extra mozzarella on top (optional)
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- Brown 1# ground meat and drain off fat. (Browning onions with meat is optional)
- Tomato Filling: Combine browned meat, onions, garlic, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, bouillon, water and seasonings. Fold in cottage cheese and set aside
- Cheese Filling: Combine Parmesan, mozzarella, and cheddar and set aside
1st layer: Spread about 1 1/2 cups of tomato filling on bottom of a deep 9 X 13″ casserole. Arrange 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top.
2nd layer: Spread about 2 1/2 cups of tomato filling over noodles and sprinkle with 3/4 c. cheese filling. Arrange 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top
3rd layer: Spread 2 1/2 cups of tomato filling over noodles and sprinkle with 3/4 c. cheese mixture. Arrange 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top.
4th/final layer: Spread remainder of tomato filling over noodles and sprinkle with remainder of cheese. Top with extra mozzarella if desired.
Cover with tented foil (this will keep cheese from melting and sticking to foil) and bake at 400 degrees for 55 minutes. Remove lid bake for 15 more minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Or, freeze and bake from frozen for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 15 minutes before serving.
After baking and cooling, casserole can be cut into squares and frozen in individual servings to be thawed and heated in microwave for quick and easy meals.