Ridiculously Easy “Cheater” Lasagna

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For anyone who doesn’t yet know…I am pregnant again. #2 – baby girl – comin’ in hot!! So take advantage of my recipes posted between now and then because I’m headed to another dark hole of ‘taking care of a tiny human’ time suck…and may never cook again. When I come out the other side it’ll be a huge accomplishment to boil water. No, for real –  moms amirite?

BUT, this baby has me craving absolutely nothing healthy so of course I indulge her highness as much as I can without massive amounts of guilt. She wants Mexican or Italian – these are my craving genres for baby round 2. So, the other day for NO reason whatsoever, lasagna popped into my head and sounded UH-MAZ-ING. But doing a real deal lasagna can take forever (boiling noodles and making home-made sauce), so I did ‘cheater lasagna’ and…holy lord it was so good. Sometimes when you take a cooking short-cut it will taste bland or just ‘eh’, but this was really surprisingly delish! Um…why would I do the 4 hour bolognese sauce and boil noodles ever again? This was LEGIT.

This makes 1 large casserole pan full of lasagna – so 2 meals for a family of 4 probably – with maybe leftovers. My pan is a bit larger than 9×13 and its pretty deep – make sure its at least 3 inches deep if not more. Leaves room for the lasagna to expand.

Time – 1 hour 5 minutes including cooling time (25 min prep, 25 minutes cooking, 15 min rest, but I usually let rest at least 20 min)

Calories – 4 Billion, but this honey badger don’t give a F*CK. This was SO worth it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package oven-ready lasagna – I use Barilla oven-ready noodles
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 – 24oz jars tomato sauce – I bought marinara, Paul Newman brand
  • 2 tsp garlic  – I use pre-minced, less work and time
  • 2 – 24oz containers light cottage cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese – or you can buy an Italian mix if you prefer
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley (can use dried if that’s easier)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil (can use dried if that’s easier)
  • Salt
  • Ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Heat EVOO in deep skillet/sauté pan over medium high heat
  3. Add onions and ground beef – cook, stirring and breaking up big beef chunks, until beef is cooked about half way (half the beef should still be red/pink)
  4. Add garlic and pinch of S&P, and continue cooking beef until all browned and broken down into small bits
  5. Pour off grease from pan – return to stove
  6. Add in both jars of marinara sauce – cover and simmer on low until step 8
  7. In mixing bowl dump both cottage cheese containers, 2 pinches of salt, 2 pinches of pepper, parsley, eggs and 2 cups of shredded cheese. Mix well.
  8. In large casserole pan, spoon about 3 big serving spoon fulls of marinara sauce, enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan
  9. Next – layer on 5 sheets of the oven ready lasagna. I put 4 sheets closely ovelapping each other on the left side of the pan (images help here), and then for the open spaces on the right (where I could still see sauce), I split the pasta sheet in half lengthwise to cover up the rest of the red sauce. This does NOT have to be perfect. If you break the sheet into 4 pieces on accident, just use the pasta sheet bits to cover up the sauce best you can. It’ll all work out. Promise
  10. Next add another 3 or so spoon fulls of marinara sauce to cover the noodles
  11. Next add half of the cheese mixture to cover the sauce
  12. Repeat step 9 – adding pasta sheets to the pan. But this time –  move the cleaner layered noodles to the other side of the pan (for me this is the right side of the pan now), so the remaining areas where you can see red sauce (on the left side of the pan now) are opposite from where they were on layer 1. This just helps it hold together better.
  13. Add 3 more spoon fulls of sauce – or enough to cover the noodles
  14. Add the remaining cheese mixture to cover up the marinara sauce
  15. Add the remaining  red sauce to cover the cheese mix
  16. Top with the remaining 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  17. Place in oven for 25 minutes (I recommend placing on a sheet pan/cookie sheet in case it boils over). Do not cover.
  18. Pull from oven(make sure corners are bubbling). Turn oven off and top lasagna with chopped basil
    • Let the lasagna cool for at least 15 minutes minimum. Lasagna will be SUPER messy if its still hot, and it holds heat for a long time. Its easier to serve if its cooler. I regularly wait 20 minutes if not longer.

*You can make a day ahead (like on a weekend) and just cut out pieces at dinner time to microwave to save time on weeknights.  *You can do all the prep and not bake until the day of eating. Just make sure you cook it about 45 minutes or bubbly because it will have been fully cooled in the fridge. *You can also make ahead (bake or no bake) and freeze.

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Oven ready noodles I prefer

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step 3 – cooking beef, onions, garlic, S&P

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step 6 – adding in marinara sauce to beef

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step 7 – making cheese mixture

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step 8 – marinara sauce in bottom of pan

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step 9 – adding noodles on top of bottom sauce layer

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step 10 – covering pasta layer #1 with sauce

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step 11 – covering sauce w/ cheese mixture

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step 15 – adding remaining sauce to final sauce layer

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step 16 – topping w/ 2 cups shredded mozz cheese

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step 18 – cooling lasagna!

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