I think everyone loves eating Lasagna or Lasagne, an Italian dinner classic loved all over the world. Just like the spelling, there are many ways to prepare this dish. The most common way outside of Italy is Lasagne al Forno, which uses a thick Ragu sauce and a cheesy Béchamel sauce. This is not that recipe! It’s also prepared differently from my Chorizo and Ricotta Lasagna recipe.
When my wife moved to Canada and made Lasagne with Béchamel, it was so different from what I knew Lasagna with Cottage Cheese to be, she even showed some people the way Australians make Lasagna. As awesome as her recipe is, I still love the Lasagna with Cottage Cheese from my childhood.
Lasagna with Cottage Cheese is a popular recipe that is eaten in Canada, and probably not as authentic as we would like to think. Ricotta cheese wasn’t as common in stores 50 years ago as it is now, and cottage cheese was substituted. Making Béchamel sauce took too much time, so layering with mozzarella became the timesaver. Instead of using Passata, people bought ready made pasta sauces. Passata is an uncooked tomato puree that is strained from seeds and skin. You can find passata at all Continental Delis. So the original lasagna recipe evolved slightly to fit into our busier lives.
Some Canadian Lasagna recipes add spinach to the cottage cheese, but I don’t love spinach in my lasagna. Put it in at your own risk!
It’s become popular to use Oven Ready Lasagna Sheets, that don’t require pre-cooking. This wasn’t always the case. In the olden days, we bought the uncooked lasagna sheets, and cooked them al-dente style, before being able to build the lasagna. It was hard finding the original uncooked lasagna sheets here in Australia, but they do exist! If you can’t find any, then simply add more water to your Ragu sauce, to allow enough moisture to penetrate the lasagna sheets. Or you can use fresh lasagna sheets which are delicious!
Lasagna with Cottage Cheese is a family favorite, full of flavor, cheese and calories. If you’ve only enjoyed Lasagna al Forno, give this Canadian Classic recipe a try. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Lasagna with Cottage Cheese - Canadian Style
- 12-16 lasagna noodles original uncooked style not oven ready
- 1 tub cottage cheese 500g/16oz
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- black pepper to taste
- 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 lbs/1kg ground beef
- 2 onions diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 celery rib diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 bay leaf optional
- 1 jar of tomato Passata 700g
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, celery and carrot until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until browned and all the liquid has evaporated. (all up about 12 minutes)
Stir in the passata, basil, oregano and bay leaf and allow to simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.
Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles according to instructions ensuring they are cooked al dente. Do not overcook the noodles! Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, eggs, chopped parsley and black pepper.
Use a 13x9 or 11x13 inch baking dish to build your lasagna. Start with spreading 1 cup of your meat sauce across the base of the baking dish. Top with 3 pieces of cooked lasagna. Set aside 1 cup of meat sauce for the topping of the lasagna.
Cover with ½ of the remaining meat sauce and spread evenly covering the noodles. Sprinkle with ½ the mozzarella cheese. Top with 3 pieces of cooked lasagna noodles. Spread the cottage cheese mixture evenly across the lasagna noodles. Top with 3 pieces of cooked lasagna noodles. Cover with remaining ½ of the meat sauce and spread evenly covering the noodles. Top with 3 pieces of cooked lasagna noodles. Cover with the 1 cup of meat sauce you set aside and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
RECAP: Bit of meat sauce > noodles > more meat sauce > mozzarella > noodles > cottage cheese > noodles > more meat sauce > noodles > bit of meat sauce > mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350F°/175C°
Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 1 hour until heated through. Remove foil during the last 10 minutes of baking allowing the cheese to lightly brown. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the lasagna to set.
I used 4 layers of noodles, but you can use 3 layers of pasta. You can substitute Ricotta for Cottage Cheese. For a meatier lasagna, add 1lb/500g of additional ground beef. If you can't find Passata, substitute with 1 large jar pasta sauce (24oz/680g) If you're using oven ready lasagna noodles, then add extra water to the meat sauce. Fill half the passata jar with water, shake and add to the meat mixture.