There are certain times that I like to have the kitchen to myself, such as when I’m trying to go quickly, or if I’m grilling something. However, there are other times when I yell through the house for a sous chef or two. Today was one of those days.

The kitchen was dirty from days of entertaining family, and the refrigerator was empty after all of the leftovers were reheated, packed for drives home, or wrapped inside a brown paper bag and ready for lunch. And now the family was gone. We were left with cold rainy weather and nothing to do. I reasoned it was as good a time as any for some comfort food.
I know that I’m cheating. I said these would be strictly family recipes. And it half is. But I have to admit, I tinkered a little. But in my defense, I was throwing this together. Also in my defense, I believe that chicken broth can make anything just a little better.
The past few years, this has been the Christmas dinner staple. We place three tables end to end and assemble stray benches, folding chairs, and ottomans. Since we have so many people, we need a dish that can be made in advance and popped in the oven when the time comes. This lasagna fits the bill perfectly. It was originally my aunt’s recipe and not much has changed. Except when I make it. Sorry Aunt Nee-Nee. As with any lasagna recipe, there is a process for assembling the layers. This is why I needed help. One person lays down the noodles, one takes charge of cheese, and one ladles out the sauce. Family effort. Oh, and the layers are labeled by the order you make them in, not the order you assemble them. We’ll get to that later.

Layer A: Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb 85% lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1½ Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp dried basil
½ cup chicken broth
1½ tsp sugar
12 oz tomato paste
28 oz canned whole tomatoes
1-2 bay leaves

Slowly brown the meat over medium low heat with the garlic. Add salt, pepper, parsley, and basil.
Stir in broth, sugar, tomato paste, and whole tomatoes. Mash the whole tomatoes to create a smoother sauce. Add bay leaf (leaves) and simmer for an hour. If the sauce reduces too quickly, add more broth, 1/4 cup at a time.

Layer B: Lasagna Noodles

4 quarts of water
2 tsp salt
10 lasagna noodles
2 Tbsp olive oil

Bring water and salt to a boil. Cook noodles until al dente and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.

Layer C: Cheese Mixture

16 oz cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients. Set aside

Layer D: Mozzarella Cheese

24 oz shredded mozzarella

Rogue Layer E: Spinach

½ cup cleaned baby spinach leaves


Preheat the oven to 375oF.
The order of the layers goes B, C, D, E, A. There will only be two layers of each, so use half of the ingredients for each layer.
Cook for 30 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes and the pieces will slide out much easier.


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