Most of you know about my goal for 2011 to cook with fresh, natural ingredients and to stop throwing food away because it doesn't get eaten or used. Usually, this means when making meals, I portion out single servings and freeze them for use at a later date.
Sometimes, though, it's nice to make just enough for D and I to have dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day. Especially on an occasion like this week... we are just returning from vacation (which means catch-up on chores, including July menu-planning) and D is having to run all over town for work, making it difficult for him to take his lunch often.
That made this lasagna perfect for us tonight! I didn't need much of any one ingredient, I was able to lighten it up pretty nicely (one of my favorite things to do!), and it was extremely easy!
Most people that don't make lasagna often complain that it's a labor intensive, multi-pan/pot meal so they rarely bother. This one went from saute pan to the oven in a lasagna pan with little work! Serve it with a green salad and you're good to go!
Easy-Peasy Lasagna for Two
You will need:
-half a pound of spicy italian sausage
*I usually use 1/2 pound of ground sausage, but the store didn't have any. Instead, I used 2 links of hot Italian sausage and just removed the casings.
*You can lighten this up even further by using lean beef or ground turkey. My honey just really likes the heat and flavor from the sausage, and I have to agree! You can use fennel seeds to add a "sausage flavor" to any of these ground meats!
-about 6 lasagna noodles, UNCOOKED (I used whole wheat)
-about a quarter of an onion, diced
-about 6 mushrooms, sliced
-a 10 oz bag of fresh spinach
-half a jar of Classico's Spicy Tomato Basil sauce (one of the tastiest and lowest calorie spaghetti sauces I have found!)
-about 6 oz of fat free cottage cheese
-grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
-part-skim grated mozzarella
-1 clove of diced garlic
-salt and pepper
*Preheat oven to 350. In a deep skillet, brown the Italian sausage (breaking up the links into small chunks). After a few minutes, add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. While this mixture starts to cook down, roughly chop the entire bag of spinach. Add this on top of the sausage and vegetable mixture. It will look bulky and full, but place the lid on your pan and allow the spinach to wilt for a couple of minutes. Once the spinach wilts a bit, stir it all together.
-Next add the half jar of Classico sauce and stir in. Bring to a simmer and let cook for several minutes.
*NOTE: The spinach will release quite a bit of moisture, causing this mixture to be watery. We are avoiding the need to pre-boil the lasagna noodles, so this is a good thing. Do not drain the mixture and be sure you don't use a slotted spoon when assembling the lasagna... we NEED the juice!! :) If we don't have enough, the noodles will not cook in the oven!
-Now you're ready to assemble! I used an 8x8 lasagna pan. Start by putting a ladle-full of the sauce mixture on the bottom of your pan.
-Next, I took 2 noodles and broke one end on each to make them fit into the lasagna pan. The 2 leftover ends fit together perfectly to create the 3rd row of noodles. Next, layer more sauce.
-With a spoon, dot the cottage cheese throughout the layer of sauce. Top that with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and then a layer of shredded mozzarella.
-Next, add another layer of whole wheat noodles and repeat the same procedure as above until your sauce mixture runs out. Top the entire lasagna with a final layer of mozzarella.
-Cover the pan in foil and bake in a 350 oven for about 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20, or until the cheese starts to brown.
Not only is this an easy recipe, it's also SO versatile! Sometimes I omit the sausage, add zucchini and basil, and it's a veggie lasagna instead! Ricotta cheese can also be a replacement for the cottage cheese, but I don't find the lighter version as readily available as fat-free cottage cheese.