The dish that is the best blend of my mom’s and my mother-in-law’s cooking is my Spinach Lasagna. Pasta is a family favorite at my in-law’s house, and lasagna is at the top of the list. This recipe is their typical starting point, serving as the canvas for a variety of fillers.
The first tweak I made to the recipe was the cheese filler. Growing up, my mom always made a lighter version of lasagna using cottage cheese instead of ricotta. I have grown to prefer the cottage cheese, since the end result is not overly rich and has the benefit of boosted protein. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a light lasagna, since I tend to go heavy on the mozzarella (I may use more than the called-for pound of cheese. Occasionally. OK, maybe more than occasionally).
The second tweak I have made is to the timing of the uncovered portion of cooking. I have found that extending the uncovered portion of the baking time results in the perfect amount of browning of the cheese, and a less watery lasagna. This time may vary for different ovens, so make sure you check your lasagna frequently the first time you make it.
When my husband and I are missing home, Spinach Lasagna is an easy solution for dinner. For now, the dish makes enough for 2 dinners. However, as our two-year-old-going-on-linebacker gets older I fear I’ll have to make multiple pans to satisfy our family.
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 large egg
24 ounce container of low-fat cottage cheese
1 lb frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 jar of your favorite red pasta sauce
1 lb shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375 °F. If not using oven-ready noodles, cook and drain the noodles according to the package directions. Mix the Italian sesasoning and the egg into the cottage cheese. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with some of the pasta sauce. Place 4 of the noodles on the bottom of the dish, then spread half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle half of the spinach over the cottage cheese, then 1/3 of the sauce, and ¼ of the cheese. Repeat the layering, then top it off with the last four noodles, remainder of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese, in that order. Bake for 45 minutes uncovered or until cheese begins to brown and then 15 minutes covered (or difference of an hour). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.
Note: I have found lasagna sets-up even better if cooked a day ahead. Once cooled, refrigerate until ready to serve, then re-heat individual slices.