Raise your hand if you struggle with a love hate relationship of cooking like I do. Sure we love to cook, or else we wouldn’t be here. But when it comes to making dinner after a long day at work, taking care of the kids or whatever your day might consist of, cooking can seem like more of a chore than it is a passion. Which is exactly why I’m sharing this recipe with y’all! I’ve tried MANY different Lasagna recipes and this version has transformed from all of them into it’s own quick little version with a few special ingredients of my own. So, if you’re looking for a thirty minute (prep) meal that’s picky eater, both kid and boyfriend approved along with quick, easy and delicious read on.
Let’s chat about picky eaters for a minute and why even this recipe works for them. How crazy do they drive you?! If you’re anything like me… it’s A LOT! And I have a house full of them. I know, lucky me ;). My daughter Marley is probably the worlds biggest Spaghetti fan. Without fail, if I ask her what she wants for dinner the answer is always, “Basghetti!”. Which leads me to a whole world of confusion why she throws a fit whenever I tell her we are having Lasagna. Have you ever tried to reason the similarities of the two with an eight year old? It’s tougher than you think. Despite all that she always ends up asking for seconds. And that goes for my boys as well.
Side note, the time it takes you to read this is not included in the total prep time. Let’s get started already!
Step One: Fill a big pot with water and put it on High Heat.
Step Two: Grab a Large skillet and add in the one pound of ground beef and hot Italian sausage. That’s right I said HOT Italian sausage. Italian Sausage is what gives all the best Lasagna’s that irresistible taste. You will never want a plain ground beef Lasagna again, I promise you. Don’t worry about the “hot” title either. Once combined with all the other flavors, there will no longer be a heat factor. If you aren’t willing to risk it, regular Italian sausage will do. Begin the browning process and be sure to breakdown the meat into little chunks.
Step Three: Aquire a cutting board, your favorite chopping knife, one medium onion and three cloves of garlic.
Chop the onion as quickly as possible to avoid tears. My pieces are usual on the small to medium size. They shrink when cooked. Once complete, peel and mince the garlic. Please, I beg of you, do not use the pre-minced store bought jar of garlic. Sure we could name this recipe the 28 minute lasagna, but the two minutes are worth it. I cannot stress this enough when making Italian food (really all food) it is of utmost importance you use fresh garlic!!
Step Four: Once meat is for the most part browned add the onions. Don’t get ahead of yourself, the garlic will come soon enough. Give the meat and onions a good stir and let sauté until the onions become translucent.
Step Five: While onions are cooking prepare your cheesey mixture of goodness. Combine in a bowl, cottage or ricotta cheese – whichever you prefer, one egg, a handful of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. If I have a jar of it on hand I’ll toss in a quarter cup of pesto. Yes, it may sound weird. Yes, your family may ask why there’s green stuff in the lasagna. It’s well worth all the questions. Whisk ingredients and set aside.
Step Six: By this point your water is probably boiling. Salt your water with three to four shakes and add in 12 whole lasagna noodles. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
Step Seven: It’s time to add the garlic! Add that goodness into the ground beef and stir it up lil darlin! Tip: Be sure to get your nose right down in there. You don’t want to miss the aroma! About 30 seconds after you add the garlic to the heat some scientific beauty happens igniting a molecule in the garlic that release the most wonderful smell you’ve ever smelled.
Step Eight: Once you’ve finished basking in all the garlic glory add a teaspoon of dry parsley, basil and oregano. You can skip this and add a tablespoon of Italian Seasoning to make life easier. I eyeball these measurements in the palm of my hand. I was fresh out of oregano this time around so I nixed that this go around. Didn’t make it or break it.
About now your probably realizing that there is no real method to my madness. A handful here a handful there. Add this or don’t, I don’t really care. One of the most important things I’ve learned from cooking is there really is no exact rule. You just gotta do what works for you. Sometimes what you create will be a masterpiece, other times you order pizza. Figure out what suits you best and remember to HAVE FUN!
Step Nine: Add two jars of whatever red sauce you have on hand. It can be Marinara. It can be Olive Oil, Basil and Garlic. It can be two different brands. Use your favorite. Mix it together and let the sauce come to a simmer. Turn your oven on to 350!
Step Ten: If all has gone as planned your timer should be going off. Strain those noodles baby!
Step Eleven: Gather your noodles, meat sauce and cheesiness in one general location. I tend to bring the noodles and cheese to the stove. It’s easier than setting up a safe area for your hot pan.
Step Twelve: It’s time to layer. Some claim there is a right way to lay down the layers. I personally never do it the same way twice. With that said, put a few good spoonfuls of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Make sure this pan has a good 2-3 inch side wall. Now get ready, because in the words of Julia Childs those noodles are going to be hotter than a stiff cock! Move quickly. Put down a layer of noodles. More sauce. Add half of the cheese goodness. Four more noodles. Slather the rest of the cheese across the noodles. Add another layer of noodles – I like noodles. So do my kids. Top that last layer of noodles off with the remainder of the sauce. Or not. Use your judgement here. This go around I seemed to have a lot of sauce. I opted to save a fair amount in a Tupperware for lunch with some tortellinis this week… multitasking! Last but not least we add the magical layer. Mozzarella Cheese!! Depending on your love for cheese, remember I am from Wisconsin, use discretion. Add anywhere from one to three cups. I chose to add a little parmesan cheese to the top this time as well. Sprinkle the cheese around. Make it look pretty.
Step Thirteen: Pop that sucker in the oven for 35 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Slice and enjoy with your favorite salad (I recommend not eating romaine) and bread
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage
12 Lasagna Noodles
1 Medium Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup – Cottage or Ricotta Cheese
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Teaspoon Salt & Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil, Parsley & Oregano -or- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 Jars of your Favorite Spaghetti Sauce
1-3 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Optional for Topping)
1/4 Cup Pesto (Optional)
I thoroughly hope you enjoyed this recipe. Let me know how yours turned out in the comments!!