Lasagna is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. It's hearty, satisfying, cheesy, and meaty. Serve with a tossed green salad and you have a complete meal.
This is my favorite lasagna - the lasagna that I grew up eating. My mom's lasagna. This is the lasagna that I have made for my family for years and years. It's loved by all. This recipe never fails. A baking dish full feeds a crowd, or just feed your immediate family and enjoy the leftovers during the week.
This lasagna features ground beef and pork sausage. I love the extra flavor the sausage provides. After browning the meat, I drain the excess grease before adding canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and other seasonings.
The cheese ingredients may seem a bit unusual. The cheese mixture is a combination of ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and parmesan. Yes, that's right - I said cottage cheese! This mixture works - it's not too rich or heavy, but just right. My husband would never touch cottage cheese by itself, but he loves this lasagna. Over the years he has learned that I put cottage cheese in this recipe and he still eats it and loves it.
For many years now I have used the oven-ready lasagna noodles. I love the convenience they provide. It saves an extra step of boiling the noodles. The oven-ready noodles also absorb liquid during baking, which helps prevent against a watery lasagna. Nobody wants watery lasagna!
The cheesy top is my favorite part of the whole lasagna. I finish the layers with a top layer of noodles. Then, I cover every inch of the noodles with sliced mozzarella cheese, overlapping generously. This bakes up to create a cheesy, crispy, top crust that I absolutely love. I usually eat the layers underneath and save the cheesy crust for last!!
Lasagna is a perfect make-ahead meal. It can be prepped a day or two in advance and baked when needed. When making ahead, either bring the dish to room temperature or allow extra baking time. Lasagna also freezes well. Sometimes I double the recipe so I can freeze the extra pan. This is a great treasure to have stashed in your freezer!
Making lasagna involves several steps. But if time is short, the meat sauce can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until you have time to pull together the rest of the recipe. When baking, just allow extra time if starting with cold meat sauce.
When making the meat sauce, I always drain the excess grease after browning the meat. This prevents the lasagna from being too greasy. Lasagna is a rich dish and really doesn't need to be swimming in all that excess fat!
The meat sauce can simmer for as little as 30 minutes, but up to 1 ½ hours is preferable. Simmering longer enhances the flavor, but if short on time, the lasagna will still be delicious.
When layering the lasagna, I always spray the baking dish with cooking spray. I like starting with a layer of noodles and I never have problems with noodles sticking on the bottom if I pre-spray the dish.
Time to enjoy
I hope you try this recipe and maybe it will become a comfort food favorite for your family!
More recipes to try
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound pork sausage
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (with basil, preferable)
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- salt, to taste
- 16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- 16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles (approx. 9 ounces)
- 16 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
- To a heavy pot, add the ground beef and sausage. Brown the meat until no longer pink, breaking the meat apart as it cooks. Drain the excess grease.
- Add in the garlic and tomato paste, stirring until combined. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, and parsley. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes or up to 1 ½ hours.
- In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Mix well. Set aside.
Layering the lasagna
- Coat a 10x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange a layer of the oven ready lasagna noodles on the bottom, breaking to fit, if necessary.
- Spoon ½ of the meat sauce over the lasagna noodles. Top with ½ of the cheese mixture, spreading evenly over the meat sauce.
- Add another layer of noodles and top with remaining meat sauce. Spread remaining cheese mixture over the meat sauce.
- Add a final layer of noodles over the cheese mixture. Top the noodles with the sliced mozzarella, overlapping generously.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.
- If making ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Before baking, bring to room temperature or allow extra baking time.