Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grandma Helen's Lasagna (from Italy!)

Grandma's lasagna, steaming hot from the oven...

Bongiorno! It's only January 3rd, but I can still be proud that I'm off to a good start on my New Year's resolutions, right? Last night I made one of Shawn's favorites- his mom's lasagna that she got from her mom that she got from an Italian lady she met. Gotta be good if it's from Italy, right? It's a little different than others you might be used to. This one calls for a creamy cottage cheese (don't be afraid), and, as you can see, is topped with tomatoes and sausage instead of mozzarella. No need to be sad; there's plenty of mozzarella to be had inside. I've had this many times now, and it is deee-licious and certainly guest-worthy.

To make it extra special, serve it with Red Grape Caesar SaladItalian Sodas, and Jane Maynard's yummy Roasted Garlic Bulbs, which conveniently bake for the same amount of time as the lasagna. Since the bulbs call for a little extra heat than the lasagna, what I would do is raise the heat to 400 after the lasagna's done and leave the garlic in the oven for another 10 minutes or so while the lasagna's setting. Serve them with olive oil, freshly grated, quality parmesan, balsamic vinegar, and, of course, a fresh loaf of good Italian bread. Offer each guest their own small appetizer/bread plate so they may concoct their own little dipping blend!
Restaurant-inspired Roasted Garlic Bulbs from This Week for Dinner.
Back to the main affair...
Grandma Helen's Lasagna adapted slightly by Janna Patterson
Serves 12

1 lb Italian sausage (Find a great fennel sausage, or go with a medium or hot if you can handle the heat. I think there's more flavor this way.)
1 clove minced garlic
2 T fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb can whole tomatoes
2 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (10-oz) pkg lasagna noodles 
3 c creamy cottage cheese (or small curd cottage cheese if you can't find this. I added a tiny amount of heavy cream to my small curd cottage cheese to make it creamier..)
2 beaten eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (the good kind)
2 T parsley flakes
1 1/2 lbs mozzarella cheese sliced thin (you can use shredded, but sliced works best)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brown sausage slowly. Spoon off fat. 
Add next 5 ingredients. Simmer uncovered until flavors are blended. 
Cook lasagna noodles until tender in a large amount of (salted) boiling water and some olive oil to prevent sticking. 
Mix cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and parsley to make the cheese filling. 
Place half the cooked noodles at the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Spread noodles with half of the cheese filling. Cover with half of the mozzarella cheese, and then half the meat sauce. Repeat layers. (There should be two of each layer, ending with the meat/tomato mixture on top.) Bake for 30 min. 
Before cutting, let stand for 10 minutes to allow filling to set.

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