COOKING FOR FAMILY
Most of my family got together last week. The occasion was for my brother and his family, who live in France, to spend time with my mother and those of us who live closer. We had a great time reconnecting, telling stories, and laughing, something we all do very well.
The surprise was how exhausting so much socializing was. We took turns hosting and cooking, making the process a lot easier, but still . . .
Mark and I hosted a late lunch to accommodate my mother who, at 100, tends to get tired early.
My husband volunteered to make his lasagna. It is a great dish to serve when you’re entertaining a lot of people. Since we were having a late lunch and lasagna is filling, the rest of the meal had to be light; a large salad and a good loaf of bread were perfect. For dessert, a little bit of sweet, we served slices of pound cake topped with marinated berries. That, served with a good cup of coffee, was perfect.
Here is Mark’s lasagna recipe. Since he makes his own tomato sauce it takes a bit of time. The good news is that you can freeze the extra tomato sauce and if you have extra lasagna you can freeze that too. One day of cooking makes many days of meals—I like that.
This recipe is a mix of my mother-in-law June Santiago’s recipe and my husband Mark’s interpretation. It’s different from most lasagnas in that it leaves out the ricotta cheese. Instead it uses cottage cheese. I wasn’t convinced until I tasted it, but it’s great; the lasagna is lighter and full of flavor. I highly recommend it.
Ingredients Tomato sauce
Prep time: 35 minutes
Total time: 3 ¼ hours
Preheat oven: 400°
5 quart baking dish (11” x 15”)
2 or 4 yellow onions chopped fine
2 or 4 cans of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces each)
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
beef bouillon low salt the equivalent of 3 - 4 cubes
½ cup red wine
2 tbsp soy sauce (soy sauce balances the acidity in the sauce)
1 package 5 Italian sausages hot or sweet either slice the sausage or remove the casing. (With the tip of a knife slice the casing and remove it.)
1 or 2 lbs ground beef depending on how much meat you like.
1 large 24 oz. container of cottage cheese
1 lb mozzarella, DO NOT USE FRESH, there is too much water in it.
8 sheets fresh pasta or 12 dried lasagna noodles cooked al dente and coated with olive oil to prevent from sticking
salt and pepper to taste
Directions Tomato sauce
- In a large pot add 4 tbsp oil.
- Add the chopped onions cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the onions have softened and are transparent.
- Add the garlic, oregano, bay leaf, and 2 tsp beef bouillon and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the wine to deglaze the pan.
- Add the cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
- Crush the tomatoes; Mark uses a potato masher to crush them in the pot. It works really well. You can also use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the tomatoes up.
- Let the sauce simmer for 1 to 2 hours. You want the tomatoes to break down and start reducing so the flavors melds together and become a sauce.
- Taste to adjust the flavors. If it needs more flavor add more beef bouillon.
- If the flavor is acidic add 1 or 2 tbsp soy sauce. It is the perfect ingredient because it balances the acidity and adds flavor to the sauce. Blend the sauce well and taste to see if it needs more. Don’t be afraid to add more soy sauce if the sauce needs it; it won’t taste like soy sauce.
While the sauce is cooking:
- Place the meat in a large skillet and cook the ground beef and the sausage until it has cooked through and starts to brown. Drain the meat of any extra oil and set aside.
- In a large pot of boiling water with 1 tbsp of salt, cook the lasagna noodles until they are al dente (just undercooked). Drain and cool in cold water and coat with oil to keep noodles separate.
- In your baking pan add a ladle full of tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
- On top add a layer of pasta.
- Cover the pasta with more sauce.
- Add the meat on top.
- Put in dollops of cottage cheese and spread over the meat.
- Add slices of mozzarella on top.
- Cover with another layer of pasta.
- Repeat the layers until your pan is full, ending with mozzarella.
- Cover the pan with foil and place in your oven.
- Cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours until the sides of the pan are bubbling.
- Remove the foil and let the lasagna brown 10 – 15 minutes.
To freeze the lasagna, cut it into individual size pieces. Wrap the pieces individually in plastic wrap and then in foil. I place the pieces in a large Ziploc® bag labeled with the date and what is inside and freeze. Lasagna will last 3 – 4 months in the freezer.
When you are ready to serve them, just take out the amount of pieces you need and thaw them in the refrigerator overnight.
To reheat, remove the foil and plastic wrap from each piece and place pieces in an ovenproof covered casserole dish with ¼ to ½ cup of water and place it in a preheated 350° oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of lasagna you are re-heating.
This recipe will be included in Le Kitchen Cookbook, so if you’d like to test it for me, I have a few questions—only 7. CLICK HERE
You can leave a comment or email me.
If you test any recipes, could you take a photo of your creation and post it on IG #lekitchencookbook
What about you?
Do you have a great go-to recipe that works for large groups and is delicious?
Let us know. I’d love to hear.
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