As often happens in the kitchen, sometimes the best food is born out of resourcefulness. What is that old saying? Necessity is the mother of invention? I think that anyone who has ever spent any time in a kitchen will tell you how true that is. Many years ago my cousin was making lasagna when she belatedly realized she didn't have the right cheese on hand. She rummaged through her frig and saw she had swiss cheese, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Long story short...the family lasagna recipe was born. I know most of you (and especially any Italians) are thinking, 'Swiss cheese? Cottage cheese? In lasagna! Are you crazy!', but I promise this is beyond delicious.
1. 1 - 1.5 lb. lean ground beef
2. 1 box lasagna noodles - do NOT be tempted into buying the "no boil" pasta
3. 2 jars of spaghetti sauce - you can certainly make your own sauce but I really like the taste of Classico Tomato and Basil
4. swiss cheese- I like Sargento Deli Style Sliced Swiss Cheese. It comes with 12 slices which is more then you will end up using but it's nice to have on hand for sandwiches.
5. cottage cheese- I buy a 1 lb. tub of it and end up using approximately 1/2. My mom makes her's with reduced fat but I like the Horizon Organic best.
6. mozzarella cheese- Again, I'm partial to Sargento brand shredded mozzarella cheese. You certainly won't use up an entire bag since this is only going on the last layer but cheese is always a good staple to have in the frig.
1. Brown the meat in a deep pan and drain off any grease.
2. Add the two jars of tomato sauce. Turn the heat down to medium low and just let it simmer.
3. In a large pot bring water to a boil. Salt slightly and put lasagna noodles in. The noodles should be completely cooked in under 10 minutes. You want to take them out slightly before they are al dente. They will finish cooking in the oven.
4. In a 9x13 inch pan spread a thin layer of tomato sauce out. This will keep the lasagna from sticking to the pan after baking.
5. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles. I can usually fit around 3 or 4.
6. Take the meat/sauce mixture and spoon a pretty good layer on top of the noodles.
7. Take your swiss cheese slices and lay them down on top of the sauce. I can usually fit 4 slices.
8. Take a spoon and dollop out the cottage cheese on top of the swiss cheese and meat mixture. I don't have precise measurements I just eyeball it. Just do about a dozen or so quarter size dollops all over.
9. Over the cheese add another layer of the meat/sauce mixture.
10. Repeat steps 5-9 until you get to the top of the dish.
10. For your last layer after you have added the sauce over the swiss and cottage cheese you will add a heaping layer of mozzarella cheese. Be generous with it. This will brown and become the "crust" of the lasagna.
11. Put into a 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the mozzarella cheese has melted into a deep golden brown.
12. Serve hot with garlic bread. This recipe makes enough lasagna to feed a small army so if you are planning on having guests over you should absolutely consider this!