Kara’s Lasagna

By popular demand – my lasagna recipe!

Warning: this is a Kara-style, why-bother-to-measure, improvisational recipe. Find some other recipe that gives explicit instructions if you’re a new or nervous cook, and then come back and try this one when you’re ready :) You’ll use raw noodles and spinach in this recipe but don’t worry — it’ll all turn out ok!

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Kara’s Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • Dry lasagna noodles in a box. Not fresh, not pre-cooked — just regular.
  • A 15-oz tub of ricotta cheese. This will make a generous family-size dish. Use two tubs if you want a mega-lasagna with leftovers for days.
  • a bag of fresh, clean, salad-style spinach (you won’t need the whole bag, so you can make a nice spinach salad to go with your lasagna)
  • a bag of grated mozarella cheese, or grate your own.
  • a tub of nice fresh grated parmesan cheese, or grate your own. Please don’t use the sawdust in the green can!
  • about 2 jars of good pasta sauce. You might not need it all, but better too much than not enough. You’ll probably need a third jar if you’re making a mega-lasagna. When I use a can of Roma tomatoes for some other recipe, I save the thick juice to make the sauce go further when I make a lasagna.
  • an egg or two
  • salt
  • Italian herbs — basil, oregano, whatever you’ve got handy
  • an onion, chopped
  • several cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Assorted fresh vegetables: red and/or green bell pepper, fresh mushrooms, zucchini, sliced carrots, whatever you like. I use a box of fresh mushrooms and a red bell pepper as a start, and add other things if I feel like it. The more you use, the bigger your lasagna will be, obviously. Chop everything into appropriately-sized chunks.
  • ENTIRELY OPTIONAL: some kind of meat. I used uncooked sweet Italian sausage once, cut into chunks and cooked with the veggies. It was great! You could use ground beef or turkey, or chunks of chicken, or whatever. Just make sure your meat is thoroughly cooked before you assemble the lasagna.

Ok! Heat up some olive oil in a nice big pan. Cook your onion and garlic for a little while, until it starts to get slightly soft. Add the rest of the veggies (hard/solid things like carrots should be added before soft/quick-cooking things like zucchini). Add meat, if you’ve got meat. Add herbs, generously. Cook until it’s all done and smells most sentimental. It’s better if the veggies don’t turn to mush, of course. But make sure that meat is done. It’ll cook more in the oven but why take a chance?

Dump your ricotta into a big huge bowl. Add several handfuls of raw spinach and mix it around with a wooden spoon. Remember that the spinach will shrink a lot, so why not add some more? Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan. Dump in the cooked veggie mixture and mix it all around. Taste, and see if needs salt. I usually add several good shakes. Add an egg or two.

Ok now get your pan. I use a deep 9″x9″ casserole dish with a lid for family-size lasagna, and a 10″x14″ pan for mega-lasagna. Put a layer of RAW lasagna noodles in the bottom. Dump in about half (or a third, depending on how much you made) of your cheese/vegetable mixture. You want a nice even layer. Sprinkle on a generous layer of mozarella and a few spoonfuls of parmesan, and then a good thick layer of sauce. This is no time to be stingy! Repeat these layers until you run out of stuff. End with sauce. You want a LOT of sauce.

Cover and bake (preheat the oven!) at 350 degrees fahrenheit for an hour. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before you serve. YUM!

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I love this recipe. The noodles turn out perfectly al dente and absorb all the extra liquid, so you don’t get that yucky runny juice in the bottom of the pan. And you don’t have to fiddle around with slimy half-boiled lasagna noodles and big gobs of cooked spinach oozing all over the cutting board. Freeze the leftovers. They reheat deliciously. Let me know if you come up with an awesome new ingredient or variation!

Category: Blog, Recipes 6 comments »

6 Responses to “Kara’s Lasagna”

  1. Kathy

    That amazes me that you don’t have to cook the noodles. I will give it a try.

    I learned two things from watching Ken cook this summer:

    1. The very mention of using the sawdust in the green can made him turn pale with shock. There were three preferable solutions. The tub of fresh grated was next best. Better than that was grating your own from the block of parmesan bought at the supermarket. Best of all was to go to a deli in NYC and get some kind of real italian parmesan cheese. That option was not possible while we were in Wyoming, but you could see Ken was suffering a bit for having to settle for less. All I can say is that must be SOME kind of wonderful.

    2. Using a garlic press is fun.

    Since then, I asked for a garlic press for my birthday and use it almost every day in my cooking. You should get one!

    I will give this approach to lasagna a try!

  2. kara

    Ooo I’ll put a garlic press on my Christmas wishlist :) When you make this, let me know how it turns out!

  3. kara

    Also — LOL about Ken and the Parmesan :)

  4. Kristin

    The why-bother-to-measure method is the best one! It’s so much more fun.

  5. Danika

    Only one thing I did differently- grilled eggplant instead of meat. Even my carnivore husband liked it after commenting “You’re putting VEGGIES into the lasagna! Why? Are we out of meat?”
    Thanks for the great site and the yummy recipes.

  6. kara

    Oh, I love eggplant! Great idea!


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