Super Bowl Sunday was a special time of year growing up. While most Americans enjoy typical party food or bar food, my family anxiously awaited the pan of lasagna that my mother had baking away in the oven. That day was a day unlike all the others because it was our annual lasagna day.
I could’ve cared less about the teams playing in the Super Bowl since our local NFL team, the Falcons, never made it to the Super Bowl until I was grown (#cheerforthehometeam). I also could’ve cared less about the halftime show and the endless crazy commercials. All I cared about on that special Sunday was making sure that I was home when the lasagna was pulled fresh out of the oven. I was surely going to get my fair share because when you wait for something all year long it means elbows out, guard your position in line and your plate of food from the other savages that had also waited all year long for the cheesy and saucy goodness.
Growing up I had a preconceived notion that lasagna was super difficult to make since it was reserved for once a year. The truth is that it’s actually not that hard to make and with so many choices of no boil lasagna noodles it’s game on for lasagna in our house usually six to eight times a year, especially when friends are invited to Sunday dinner. To make the lasagna a fast meal, I use a couple of jars of store bought pasta sauce and bags of grated cheese and slices of provolone cheese for the top. For those weekends that I have extra time to spend making this lasagna I make homemade pasta sauce instead of using a store bought jarred sauce. I’ve linked the recipe if you want to try making your own sauce. I hope that you will try this recipe before the next Super Bowl Sunday rolls around!
Preheat oven according to the no boil lasagna noodle box (usually 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit). Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, brown 2 pounds of ground beef or a mixture of ground beef and spicy Italian sausage. Season the meat with 1/2 to 1 tsp. each of dried parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. When the meat is broken up and browned drain any excess grease and add two large jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce or make a homemade meat sauce like the recipe found above. Over medium low heat warm the sauce and meat while stirring constantly to avoid splatter. When the sauce is warmed through turn it off. In a mixing bowl add cottage cheese (use ricotta if you like or a mixture of the two), 1 large egg, 1 tsp. of parsley flakes, a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. I prefer cottage cheese but use ricotta if you prefer or 1/2 cottage cheese and 1/2 ricotta cheese.
Start assembling the lasagna by spreading a little meat sauce in the bottom of the greased casserole dish. Then add a layer of no boil noodles, a layer of cottage cheese, some shredded mozzarella cheese, and another layer of meat sauce. Repeat the pattern of noodles, cheese layer, meat layer. I usually have three layers of noodles but if you have a tall pan go for as many layers of noodles as you’d like, but remember this will expand as it’s cooked so don’t overfill or it will spill out of your pan.
My final layer is topped with mozzarella cheese. I follow the noodle instructions for covering the pan with aluminum foil and the bake time. My lasagna is usually finished in 50 minutes to an hour. I remove the aluminum foil and cook the lasagna for about 5 minutes uncovered. Once the lasagna comes out of the oven let it rest for about 10 minutes in order to have slices that stay together when cut.
Additional notes** 1 pound of spicy Italian sausage can be substituted for 1 pound of ground beef (that’s the way my mom always made hers and it’s amazing unfortunately I can’t buy Italian sausage where I live). Sometimes I use bags of grated cheese instead of grating my own and this recipe turns out great. Use whatever is best for your schedule. Slices of provolone on top are excellent!!