Meat and Veggie Lasagna
Meat and Veggie Lasagna

Making lasagna is a labour of love. It’s time consuming but the end result is well worth it. Plus this feeds a small crowd! This recipe will yield extra meat sauce, which you will be able to freeze and serve over pasta for a quick weeknight meal whenever you are running low on time. I tried to sneak in some extra vegetables in this recipe to make up for the overload of cheese… as if it makes a difference.

Meat and Veggie Lasagna

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 3 hours
Yield: 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

For the Meat Sauce

  • 1 ½lbs extra lean ground beef
  •  ½lb Italian sausage
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups canned tomato sauce
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped
  • Handful flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Cheese Layer

  • 350g ricotta cheese
  • 350g cottage cheese
  • 225g shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •  ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Lasagna Layers

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 225g shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced and sautéed separately

DIRECTIONS

In a large saucepot, brown the ground beef, sausage, mushrooms, onion, celery and carrot. Add in garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, basil, parsley, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt and pepper. Simmer, covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce is simmering, soak the lasagna noodles in a large bowl of hot tap water (as hot as you can get it) for 30 minutes. Be sure to separate the noodles and move them around every 5 minutes so that they do not stick together. This will soften the noodles and they will continue to cook and finish up in the oven.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the cheese layer. In a medium sized fry pan, sauté the sliced zucchini over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous amount of salt. The goal here is to remove the moisture from the zucchini so that when it’s cooking in the lasagna it does not make it watery. Once the zucchini is done, place it on a bed of paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.

Preheat the oven to 375. To assemble the lasagna, layer 4 noodles, enough sauce to cover the noodle layer evenly, ½ of the sautéed zucchini and ½ of the cheese/spinach mixture. Repeat and finish with the remaining 4 noodles, topped with the 225g of shredded mozzarella and the ¼ cup grated parmesan. If you have extra meat sauce (which you should) you can freeze it and serve over pasta for an easy weeknight meal.

Cover the lasagna with greased tin foil, attempting to tent it so that the top cheese layer is not touching the foil. This is so that when you remove the foil it does not pull off the entire top cheese layer. Bake for 40 minutes, remove foil and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.