This recipe is for when you want to make Classic Lasagna for a crowd. I make one tray with meat and one with cheese only. The beauty of this recipe is that it can be frozen unbaked or baked. It is a labor of love that yields a creamy and delicious lasagna that makes even better leftovers. Marinara, sausage crumbles, ricotta, cottage cheese and mozzarella.
The full and detailed recipe card is at the end of this post. This recipe is for two, 9 x 13 trays of lasagna. This recipe is a labor of love which is why I make two trays. I freeze one uncooked. Or I cook booth and freeze smaller portions to take out and reheat for quick dinners. I sometimes also give a tray to a friend. There are details about the products I use below BEFORE the recipe card.
Cottage and Ricotta
These are the cheeses I use for the lasagna filling along with mozzarella . I use three of the ricotta, the extra one is not pictured. The cottage cheese adds moisture and keeps the creamy ricotta from drying out. It is a game changer for lasagna. Even if you do not like cottage cheese, you will not mind this.
I use exactly 24 noodles for this recipe as I ROLL up my noodles. You will have beautiful that do not leak out the cheese and filling when it is baked. I pack the rolls snugly into the trays and after the lasagna rests, I still cut it in squares as normal. Coom and drain the noodles. I let them dry out on towels to make them easier to spread the cheese on and roll.
- *pictures of all the ingredients are IN the post above, please read beyond this card
- 1 box + 1 half of a box of Lasagna Noodles ( I use Barilla each box is 1lb)
- *all together you need 24 cooked lasagna noodles
- 3 8 ounce jars of your favorite Marinara (I use the one from Aldi)
- 2 lbs ground mild Italian Sausage
- 1 24 ounce container of small curd cottage cheese (4% milkfat)
- 3 15 ounce containers of ricotta cheese
- 3 8 ounce packages of mozzarella (buy the brick and grate yourself)
- 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon of white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- Garlic salt to taste, I use 1/4 teaspoon
- A sprinkle of black pepper or more if you like it
- Cook your Italian sausage, make sure to break up the sausage into a very fine crumble as it cooks, you don't want large chunks. Drain the oil and let cool.
- Boil your lasagna noodles, drain, and let cool and dry on paper towels or a clean dish towel, I spread them out when they are cool enough to touch.
- Grate all your mozzarella cheese. Reserve the equivalent of one brick to top the lasagna with. You will add the other two, to the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture.
- I use two 9x13 trays for the two lasagnas. *I make one with meat and one with just cheese but you can do them both meat.
- Add a jar of the marinara to each tray. I add a little water to each jar, and shake to get the rest of the sauce out, and add that to each tray. If I have fresh basil, I add a few leaves to the bottom of each tray. To one tray, if doing meat and cheese separately, I add a few tablespoons of the crumbled, cooked sausage to the bottom of one tray as well.
- Mix your ricotta, cottage cheese (this adds moisture and creaminess), mozzarella (remember to save some for the top) add the nutmeg, white sugar, garlic salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and if you have fresh basil, mince it and add it as well. Add your three eggs after whisking them. Stir this and combine well.
- I set up a work station with the ricotta mix, sausage, cooked noodles, the two trays with the sauces in the bottom. And a cutting board.
- I start with the meat lasagna. I spread out the noodles and add about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ricotta down the length of each noodle. (picture in post) then I add a couple of tablespoons of the cooked sausage. Then starting from one end I roll the noodle up on itself and place it in the pan with the sauce and sausage. I repeat this until I have 12 roll ups snug in the tray. (picture in post). Rolling the noodles helps keep the filling IN the layers while baking. I still cut the lasagna as you would if you prepare it the non rolled up way. You will see your fillings don't leak out. **You do not have to roll the noodles super tight. Some of the filling will come out while rolling. Do not fret. I just add the extra to the next roll.
- Repeat this process with the next pan, of all cheese. If doing a cheese and meat version.
- I top the two trays with the third jar of marinara. I add about 1/2 tablespoon to the top of each roll. If I have extra sausage left, i add that to the top of the meat tray. If you have extra ricotta left, I also top the rolls with a little bit of that on each roll. Depending how much ricotta you use in each roll, you shouldn’t have much left.
- I use the rest of the mozzarella across the top of both trays. I also add some fresh basil. Cover with foil, spray the side that will touch the lasagna with non stick spray and bake at 375 degrees for an hour. Then uncovered for 30 minutes. Keep and eye so the cheese isn't getting too brown. If using foil pans, I suggest baking them on a cookie tray and the trays can bend when trying to take it out of oven. *Please see note about baking at the end.
- You know your lasagna is done when it is bubbling, ther center is semi firm, and the cheese is bubble brown. The LASAGNA MUST REST at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares or it will be watery.
**You can assemble the lasagnas two days in advance before baking. Just bring to room temp on counter before baking.
***All ovens bake differently. The thickness of your foil and your pan can also affect cook times. The lasagna does best baked in the center of the oven. The first time you bake this note how long YOUR Oven takes. The lasagna is done when it is bubbly and melty and golden brown looking. The lasagna must rest before cutting it in squares or it will be watery.
****Lasagna can be baked ahead of time and reheated the next day by covering it in foil and putting it in the oven after it sits out for 30 minutes on the counter from fridge. Put it in the oven and let it warm as the oven heats up. Warm at 325 degrees until center is warm. This method will help keep it from drying out. You can also microwave individual slices.
Salad For Lasagna
This is the salad I make with the lasagna for a complete meal. A great party menu. This is my Italian Salad with Basil and Onion Dressing.