As I've mentioned before, the way I cook doesn't lend itself well to sharing recipes, because I don't usually use just one recipe to guide my meal preparation. (I guess I regard them more as suggestions rather than instructions.) Even when I do consult one, I can't help but modify it to death—until I've cooked a dish that only resembles the one in the original recipe. In any case, if you cook this way, here are some suggestions for you!
(This dish is loosely based on my mom's version of lasagna and a recipe my father-in-law relayed to me while he was visiting—both were passed to me verbally.) I used up what we had left in the fridge and pantry and added a few things to it. But you can add whatever you like to this lasagna, and use up the veggies, cheeses, and meats that you have!
- Brown 1lb of ground beef, with some minced garlic (Jaymz and I used a whole bulb, but we love garlic) and 1/2 a large onion, coarsely chopped. (If I was to go back and do this over, I would've browned the beef and then drained it before adding the veggies). Add 2 zucchinis, quartered and then sliced into 1/2" chunks. Saute for a few minutes, until the zucchini begins to soften. Add about 2 cups of baby spinach to the top of that mixture and saute until spinach has cooked down. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine 12oz of cottage cheese, about 1/4c of mozzarella cheese, and some Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), along with coarsely chopped fresh Italian herbs (I had basil and oregano), then set aside.
- In another bowl, combine a large (12oz?) jar of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce and 1c water. (You could also cook the meat/veggie mixture then add it to your pasta sauce/water mixture if you like.)
- Now you're ready to begin layering the lasagna. Spread a small amount of the tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking dish—just enough to coat the bottom. Then put down a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. Spread some of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles, then a layer of the meat and veggies, then a layer of sauce on top. Repeat with more noodles, then cheese, then meat/veggies, then sauce until you're out of everything except sauce. Add a final later of noodles, then the rest of the sauce, then a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and you're done assembling!
(Here's the thing about cooking sans recipe: I ended up with way too much of the fillings because I kept adding and adding stuff to them. I probably could've made a very thick four-noodle-layer lasagna in my 9x11 pan (since everything cooks down), but Jaymz was worried it would spill over in the oven, so we made two three-noodle-layer lasagnas: one in the 9x11 pan and another in the 9x9 square pan. Lots of leftovers! So, keep that in mind if you ever use this "recipe".)
Cover your lasagna pan(s) with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes or until it comes out bubbly and the cheese is a yummy golden brown.