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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

When I made my Vegetarian Lasagna with Broccoli, Kale, and Zucchini, I had lightly boiled the noodles. After baking in sauce for 45 minutes, the noodles got mushier than I'd like. I know I've heard before that you don't have to boil the noodles first because they'll absorb liquid in the sauce while baking. So I decided to give it a try and make lasagna with dried noodles. Not the kind that's advertised as no-bake, just straight-from-the-box regular old dried lasagna noodles.

I couldn't wait for the lasagna to cool down before cutting (or eating!), but somehow I think the gooey cheese and unstructuredness of this piece looks infinitely more appealing.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 2

This piece was cut the next day, and the pasta had absorbed even more sauce overnight so it's not as saucy as I generally like, but still perfectly good.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 1

So there you go, you really don't have to pre-boil lasagna noodles before baking. I only mention this because recently Ning of Heart and Hearth made lasagna with oven-ready noodles and she didn't believe me when I told her regular noodles would do just fine. Oh dear, I hope that didn't come out too snotty. I mentioned this so you can save your money and buy regular lasagna noodles instead of buying special ones, unless you want to, of course.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

For a 10-by-14-inch pan, you'll need:
1 package of lasagna noodles
1-lb ground turkey or beef
1 16-oz container small curd cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese
1 8-oz package mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 onion, diced
2 24-oz jars pasta sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil

Optional: I sometimes add sauteed and drained spinach into the sauce.

Start by dicing and sauteing the onion until softened.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 3

Add ground turkey or beef and 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, and 1 tsp dried parsley. Saute until the meat is mostly cooked.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 4

Add two jars of pasta sauce and mix. And if you're thrifty as I am, add about 1/2 cup water into the jars and swish it around to get the last of the sauce.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 5

In another bowl, mix 1 8-oz package mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 16-oz container of small curd cottage cheese, and 1 egg.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 6

Now you're ready to assemble. Notice dried lasagna noodles in the box. I start with a light layer of sauce so the noodles don't stick to the pan.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 7

Add dried lasagna noodles on the bottom.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 8

Add a layer of sauce.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 9

A few dabs of cheese.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 10

More dried lasagna noodles.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 11

More sauce.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 12

Oops. Sort of ran out of cheese. Portion out your cheese better than I did.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 13

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for at least half an hour to 45 minutes.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 14

See? Proof that the pasta cooked through.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 15

For straight edges in photos, it's probably better to cut into the lasagna when it's cold. But for eating purposes, who cares?!

Lasagna with Meat Sauce 16


My other lasagna recipes:
Vegetarian Lasagna with Broccoli, Kale, and Zucchini
Vegetarian Lasagna with Feta Cheese, Spinach, and Tofu
Pastitsio (Greek "Lasagna")

1 year ago today, jungle red hibiscus flowers.
2 years ago today, little red houses and apple trees.


  1. Whoa...another stratospheric lasagna! I know taste is most important but with lasagna...a good stack like this is a sign of a good one too.

  2. I love lasagna but often find it too heavy - I think your version using ground turkey might help lighten it. And thanks for the no-boil tip!

  3. Hey, that's really good to know, re the no pre-boiling of noodles.

    Also, I love that: "Oh dear, I hope that didn't come out too snotty." LOL.

    And oh yeah, we can never wait for stuff to cool down before cutting int them. We *always* have melty/floppy things instead of straight-edge things. =)

    (I still have your 24, 24, 24 post "kept new" in my reader. Have to read it, still!)

  4. Thanks for the tip about the noodles. I've always wondered why I needed to boil the noodles when they're going to be baking in the sauce anyways. Yet, like a good, little consumer believing what has been advertised, I bought those no-boil noodles. I say, it's time to fight the massive corporate machine! ;)

  5. Can I have a slice please?? I love lasagna and I always wanted to try it out at home. Sadly, am the only one at home who loves lasagna. Dad doesn't take cheesy stuff and Hubby prefers pasta than lasagna.

  6. I had no idea that you could do that... I always buy the no bake type. I am very curious about it now, and I'll definetely remember it next time I a the pasta aisle...

  7. Peter,
    I didn't know lasagna impressed you so much. I'm way more impressed that you made homemade pasta!

    Ground turkey and cottage cheese definitely makes it lighter, but it's still a pretty heavy dish.

    Haha! It's a good thing you didn't take me seriously then. I still have to read your post too. It's loooong! But awesome, so I wanted to read it with justice.

    Yes! We must rise against corporate marketing! No more pre-boiled noodles! Hehe.

    So sad. Of course you may have a slice or two or three. I had to give away lots b/c I can't eat it all.

    As long as you use enough sauce, it cooks just fine in the oven.

  8. Surprisingly WC, the no-boil lasagna noodles here in Manila is less expensive than the regular ones. Probably because the brand is mainstream and popular. No, you did not come in as snotty - just matter-of-factly, straight to the point. :)

  9. Ning,
    If no-boil noodles are cheaper, than might as well buy those. :)

  10. Me and my sister decided to make lasagna for new years. It came out very yummy. We opted for ricotta cheese and ground turkey. Probably the only extra thing we added is a bit more water since my sister said that in your photo your sauce looked more watery. I told her it really doesn't matter, but she added more water either way, so our lasagna was still as saucy the following day. I also got the pleasure of telling her that there's no need to boil the noodles beforehand :)

  11. Craving Cinnabon,
    Yay! I'm glad you liked the recipe. My sauce looked more watery b/c I always add a bit of water to the jar to get out the last of the pasta sauce. And isn't it cool to throw around little bits of nonsense like not having to boil noodles? :)

  12. I have not cooked noodles for lasanga for about 20 years!! I'm from Canada and the no boil noodles were available there about 20 years ago. Then I moved to the US...no no boil noodles so I just did the regular noodles and it was perfect! The key thing is to make your sauce with extra water so the noodles absorb the water and not the sauce so much. My recipe does not used jarred sauce but homemade (it's my Mom's) and I just add about a cup of hot water to it. Perfect every time! And..I always use cottage cheese!

  13. And...you need to leave space between the noodles for the sauce to go between and for the noodles to grow as they cook. You shouldn't overlap them.

  14. Jane,
    I always add water to my jar to get the last bit of sauce so that's always just enough to cook the noodles while the lasagna bakes. Homemade sauce is awesome!

  15. I completely heart the no boil. Foodie genius!

  16. Ivy Blue,
    Anything to shave off cooking time or work!

  17. Thank you for that information on not boiling the lasagna noodles. I've been using the "bake" type but from now on will opt for the regular!! Very clever!!

  18. Anne-Marie,
    Regular lasagna is so much cheaper than the bake type, and not pre-cooking saves so much time too.


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