Monday, February 29, 2016

Rich Lasagna Made with Gay Lea Cottage Cheese #BornOnTheFarm

My husband is really a meat and potatoes kind of guy, although he surprises me with some of the spicy dishes he enjoys. But one thing that drives me a little nuts is his dislike of casseroles. As a category. He's not big on soups either. Generally things with lots of ingredients mixed together just don't do it for him. But I LOVE them. It's sad, because with no one to share these dishes, I just don't make them that often. 

One of my all-time favourite meals is lasagna. I can't get enough of it. But my husband hates it. Boo won't eat it either. But they both love pasta. And Hubs loves a meaty spaghetti sauce. When you get right down to it, lasagna is really not that different, taste-wise, from spaghetti, just baked with cheese, so I don't understand. Oh well. I still make a pan of my delicious, creamy lasagna from time to time and portion it up to freeze for my lunches. 

What makes my lasagna so special? I make it with love? I'm not sure really, but I think it has something to do with my generous use of cheese, including a layer of cottage cheese for creaminess and flavour. I include a good portion of vegetables as well; any casserole presents an excellent opportunity for sneaking in fresh veggies and all the health benefits they bring. If you have veggie-averse family members just chop the veggies up super-fine so they disappear - their health benefits remain.

A more traditional lasagna option might be ricotta, but I grew up with cottage cheese, so that's what I use. My go-to is Gay Lea's Nordica 2%. It's not the highest fat, but it's not fat free either, which works for me. You can choose the version that you prefer of course - fat-free, 1%, 2% or 4% are all available. All are great sources of calcium and lower-fat protein, and Gay Lea uses 100% Canadian dairy milk. Plus is tastes great. Hubs actually will eat a bowl of this cottage cheese for breakfast, as-is. With 15 g of protein in a half cup serving, it's a great energy boost to start the day.

But back to my lasagna. First off I will admit that I have never really used a recipe for this, so I had to pay special attention to figure out how I make it. I learned to cook primarily from my grandmother, and she rarely used a recipe for anything. When I cook I sniff and taste and go with my gut, but these instructions will work :) Enjoy!!

Deb's Delicious Lasagna

1lb extra lean ground beef
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
1 19 fl. oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 750g container Gay Lea 2% Cottage Cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
9 lasagna noodles

Brown ground beef in a deep pan & drain. Add seasonings, mushrooms and peppers to pan and saute for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and paste, stir to combine, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the meat mixture is simmering, prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Assemble the lasagna in layers in a 9x13 glass casserole dish. 
1/3 of the meat, 1/3 of the shredded cheese, 3 noodles; 
1/3 of the meat, a bit less than 1/3 of the shredded cheese, cottage cheese, 3 noodles; 
1/3 of the meat, 1/3 of the shredded cheese, 3 noodles; 
top with remaining shredded cheese and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

*Note: you can drain some of the liquid from the cottage cheese before adding to the lasagna.

Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes or so before serving, or make a day ahead and re-heat for the best flavour.

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Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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