Italian Baked Cheesy Lasagna

In Recipes | Delicious and Quick Recipes for Real Food by Lisa Soldo-JohnsonLeave a Comment

When I hear the words Italian Lasagna, it reminds me of my favorite dish my mother used to make.   My father was 100% Italian and my mother was 100% German but my mom had mastered the art of lasagna making, “Lorraine style.”

For those food critiques who insist upon the extensive labor of homemade noodles and an herb tomato sauce simmering over the heat for hours to qualify as authentic Italian cooking, I completely understand. I truly appreciate the incredible depth of flavor accomplished through the artful making of homemade ingredients.  I have great admiration for those who have the time and technique to create delicious pasta dishes with that level of time and commitment.  However, my mother wasn’t one. Not because she didn’t want to, but because her schedule didn’t allow it. Though, whatever she created in her kitchen was delicious, including her lasagna.

Like many hard-working families today, my mother worked away from the home while raising five kids.  She didn’t have the luxury or the energy to make time-consuming recipes after a long hard day’s work.  But she wanted her family to eat well so instead of homemade pasta and sauce, she improvised with ingredients readily available at the local grocery store.

Boxed noodles, Ragu spaghetti sauce and Green Giant Mushrooms all played a part in the symphony of flavors that created her famous lasagna.  But the real  culinary magic was found in the combination of spices, loads of mozzarella cheese, and the surprising addition of dried cottage cheese sprinkled between each layer.

The art of lasagna making is not exactly rocket science, but there is a method that matters. This recipe includes three layers starting with noodles on the bottom, a layer of sauce, a layer of cottage cheese, and a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Repeat, cover with foil, and bake.

What is dry cottage cheese, you ask? Dry cottage cheese seems to be a thing of the past.  You might find it hard to purchase a container of dry cottage cheese at most grocery stores.  Yet it is the dry cottage cheese that sets this recipe apart from all other lasagnas.  The soft white bits of cheese generously sprinkled between each layer of sauce and noodles creates a pleasantly subtle flavor and texture that takes this lasagna to an entirely new level of deliciousness.

What’s one to do if you can’t find dry cottage cheese at the grocery store? Ricotta or another soft cheese is not a good substitute for this recipe.  That style of softer cheese will create a soupy mess on your plate. You can easily create your own dry cottage cheese by placing the cottage cheese in a colander over the sink. Using cool water and your sink sprayer, gently spray off all liquid from the cottage cheese until it leaves only the curds in the colander. That’s it! Now you have dry cottage cheese.

Warm cheesy Italian Lasagna with layers of meat-filled red sauce and tender dry cottage cheese is a refreshing take on this favorite one pan meal. Serve it with your favorite salad and baked garlic bread for a delicious Italian meal.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you’ve made it please share it with me by tagging @culinarybutterfly on Pinterest.

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Italian Baked Cheesy Lasagna Yum
Warm cheesy Italian Lasagna with layers of meat-filled red sauce and tender dry cottage cheese is a refreshing take on this favorite one pan meal. Serve it with your favorite salad and baked garlic bread for the perfect Italian meal your entire family will love.
Course Entrees
Cuisine American, Italian
Course Entrees
Cuisine American, Italian
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté ground beef 3 to 4 minutes or until meat is mostly cooked. Drain meat in a colander and return to skillet.
  3. Stir in pasta sauce, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, allspice, ground cloves and pepper. Stir well, cover and simmer sauce on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. In large pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Boil until noodles are almost al dente.
  5. Drain and rinse noodles in colander under cold water until they are cool to the touch.
  6. Using a 9 x 12 baking pan, lay noodles on the bottom to fit the width of the pan, overlapping the edges slightly. If the noodles do not reach the end of the pan, cut another noodle to fit across that end, making sure the entire bottom of the pan is covered.
  7. Drain excess oil from sauce and pour 2 3/4 cups sauce over noodles. Using large spoon, spread the meat sauce over the noodles evenly.
  8. Sprinkle 1 cup cottage cheese evenly over meat sauce.
  9. Sprinkle 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over cottage cheese.
  10. Repeat layers 2 times. Finish by sprinkling parmesan cheese on top layer. (Feel free to add another layer if you have enough ingredients. Be sure to cook 5 additional noodles for an extra layer.)
  11. Spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray before covering the pan tightly. Bake 45 minutes, remove from oven and let sit covered for 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

- Drain all excess oil and liquid from ground meat before adding in sauce so that the lasagna will not be runny.
- Make sure the noodles are cooked only to al dente. Because they continue to cook during the baking process, they will fall apart when cutting if cooked too soft during the boiling process.
- Adding oil to the pasta water keeps noodles from sticking together.
- Spraying the inside of the tin foil before covering the pan prevents cheese from sticking to the foil as it bakes.

Recipe by Lorraine Soldo for

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