Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Lasagna Story... and Rebuttal

I read Alicia's post on lasagna some weeks ago... before I went to Istanbul... and was horrified. Crunchy, rubbery noodles? I thought lasagna that tasted like spatulas meant it was bad. And ricotta cheese only? What? I suppose before her post I thought most everyone preferred lasagna the same way: meaty, cheesy, saucy, tender, and steamy.

I was wrong.

I'll never forget the first real lasagna I made. Slow-simmered sauce, hand-grated cheese, homemade noodles and everything. I was in college and skipped class to make it. (For a guy, of course. We'd been dating only a few weeks and I'd already turned out my best: fried chicken and pot roast. Lasagna was logically the next at bat.) So I worked on this lasagna all day and when we dug into it later I nearly fainted. It was that good. He, however, wasn't smitten. I'll have to get you my Mom's recipe for lasagna, he told me. Oh. Well. If my lasagna had to come in second runner-up, at least it fell behind an old family recipe. I understood and asked about said recipe's history. I think it's just the one on the back of the noodle box, he said.

Should have broken up with him right then.

Anyway, the guy might be history, but my love for lasagna is still going strong. I made it the night before I flew to Turkey, just in case it ended up being my last homecooked meal ever. It was a good choice. Meaty, cheesy, saucy, tender and steamy. Boy, do I ever like lasagna....

Brin's Second Runner-Up Lasagna

1 box lasagna, cooked to al dente
1 egg
2 cups small-curd cottage cheese
2 handfuls each: grated Romano, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheese
1 pound ground meat (beef, sausage, veal, turkey – whatever)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups tomato sauce
2 teaspoons each: oregano, thyme, parsley

Cook lasagna in boiling salted water until al dente. In small mixing bowl, stir together cottage cheese, egg, and about 2/3 of the grated cheese. Brown meat with onions. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in tomato sauce. Add remaining herbs. Ladle enough sauce in bottom of baking dish to prevent noodles from sticking. Arrange noodles over sauce. Spread half of cheese/egg mixture over pasta. Cover cheese with sauce. Repeat until ingredients are gone. (I usually get two layers.) Cover with reserved cheese. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and melted and you can’t stand it any longer.


Anonymous said...

Oh, man, did this post have me drooling! -Julia :-)

Brambleberry said...

I know what we're eating for supper tonight! Mmmmmmmm!!

Unknown said...

I'm like you, make it the old fashioned way to fully savor the dish, your so right Brin, no box recipe for me either!

Jim Looby said...

How weird. I could almost hear that ex of your's voice as the voice of a friend of mine from college.

Back of a box... sheesh.

Brin said...

Oooooooohhh. You're thinking of the guy I saw briefly my freshman year. Wasn't him. (No kitchen then.) Nope, this was someone else altogether... the guy I dated years 2-4. Zeta Chi, if that rings any bells... ;p

Betty said...

Oh yeah Brin, now that's lasagna and I'll give it a new name...how about Brin's First Class Lasagna?

Harbor Hon said...

Your lasagna sounds so perfect ... and I have an Italian store a few blocks from here. Love going in there, everything is so fresh. Sometimes we just go there and buy Genoa Salami, cheese and fresh baked bread and share it at the office for lunch. Gotta make this!
Carolyn xxoo

Linnee said...

So... you totally convinced me to make lasagna for supper tonight. And I'm so glad you did! hehe My recipe is quite similar to yours. And it was really yummy. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh yum!! I love to add fresh chopped basil to my lasagna.. but then I LOVE fresh basil. This looks devine!

Anonymous said...

Our recipes are similar, good minds think alike right! :) You are one of a kind Brin, most men/women today go to the freezer section and buy the frozen kind, I can name some names here if I have to :). Get his Mom's recipe! LOL! dump the dude would be my first thought....oh no, this wasn't the man you ended up getting married to was it? LOL! You stick to that wonderful recipe of yours and I am going to keep it close by to try real soon :).
Have a wonderful day!

Jim Looby said...

Bells are ringing!

Amy said...

I don't make it anymore because we'll eat the whole pan in one night.

I think it's better re-heated the next day though.

I do slow cook the sauce though.

Vee said...

I'd be hooked on your lasagna! No rubbery noodles for me and lots of cheese with several varieties represented please. Thankfully, my husband thought my lasagna was top notch. He kept inviting people over for some knowing that I loved company. He, on the other hand, just wanted more lasagna.

"Off the box"...gheesh!

Anonymous said...

oh red wine in the red sauce if I may. Denise

Terri Steffes said...

This is exactly why I love coming here. The title of your lasagne is just keeping it real, isn't it! It sounds delightful, the perfect dish to make when you want to feel love both on the inside and the outside!

Jillian's Bella Rosa Antiques said...

Hi! Just thought I'd leave a note about the lasagna. Being a die hard NJ girl and all of my Italian ancestors on my Mom's side would have to ask "Have you ever TRIED using Ricotta cheese?" I was so excited to get your recipe and then felt soooooo let down when I saw cottage cheese! While it may be tasty...it's just not ITALIAN.

Ya know what I mean? :-)

Sorry I'm not as upbeat as your other comments, but then again, any time I do leave a nice comment on your site, you don't usually reply back. So I figured I had nothing to lose here.

I'll keep checking back and you did inspire me to break out my lasagna recipe. (Not located on back of any box.)

Brin said...


Sorry you were disappointed with the recipe. I'm a Texas girl... I'm not Italian... so when I share my lasagna recipe I'm sharing... MY recipe. Surely if you're an Italian girl from NJ you wouldn't need my humble little attempt at an Italian dish. And yes, I HAVE tried ricotta. I think it's mealy and I don't like the texture.

As for not replying to your comment(s), I apologize. Here's the thing: I own my own oil and gas business that requires my full-time attention and extensive traveling. I volunteer. I teach Sunday School. I'm writing a book. I'm renovating a very large house and garden. I have an etsy site to help fund various charges/causes. I have a large circle of family and friends who daily/weekly rely on me for a variety of things. I blog when I have time and get an average about 75-100 emails a day. My phone rings off the wall. I don't get much sleep and rarely sit still. I'm doing the best I can and reply to comments and emails as I can. A little slack is not expected but would be appreciated. What exactly were you hoping for a response on?

That said, I'm grateful for your comment and welcome anyone's take on anything... even if it's on my lasagna. I've obviously heard a little lasagna criticism before! :D


Jillian's Bella Rosa Antiques said...

Ouch! I thought blogs were about writing back and forth???? Making friends...

I was just trying to help ... so sorry to have upset you.

Whimsical Woodland said...

Just wanted to let you know I tried this recipe, and I can't begin to describe how delicious it is. By far, the best lasagna recipe I have ever tasted/tried! Simply perfect!