Lasagna is one of those dishes that’s good on many levels: it’s easy to put together, it’s a potluck favorite, it can be made ahead of time, and it’s fabulous leftover.
Queen Of Freeze Tip #1 – I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention the marinara sauce can be doubled, tripled, or more, then frozen in portions for future use. I was recently able to extra-quickly make Cheese Lasagna because I already had some marinara in the freezer. However, try the sauce first before increasing the amount – to be sure you like it.
Queen Of Freeze Tip #2 – Save the extra tomato paste in mounds of 1 tablespoons on waxed paper, and place in freezer. When frozen, store in freezer container for future use.
CHEESE LASAGNA – makes one 9″x13″ casserole
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tsp sugar
- 1 onion (about 1½ cups), chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp salt, divided
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 42 oz canned whole tomatoes (1 28 oz can, & 1 14 oz can)
- 6 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded, divided
- 8 oz whole milk cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/8 tsp cornstarch, divided
- 14 curly edged dried lasagna noodles
- 5½ oz (2 cups) Italian Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
To make the marinara, put the olive oil, sugar, onion, red pepper flakes, oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large saucepan (so it doesn’t splatter). Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.Remove and discard the stem ends, peels, and any imperfections from canned tomatoes. Pulse in food processor or chop by hand. Add to onion mixture along with tomato paste, and 1/2 cup Pecorino (1 1/4 oz). Bring to boil, then lower flame to keep a simmer for 20 minutes UNcovered.Boil at least 4 cups of water. Place dried noodles in 9″x13″ casserole dish. When water is boiling, pour over noodles so they’re immersed. Gyrate them so they don’t stick. Let set 15 minutes to parcook.While the noodles are softening and the sauce is cooking, mix together cottage cheese, 4 oz (1½ cups) Pecorino, cream, garlic, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, and 1 tsp cornstarch. Set aside.When 15 minutes for the noodles is up, place them on tea towels in a single layer. Pat tops to dry. Cut 2 of them in half widthwise (so they’re each about 5″ long). Empty and dry casserole dish.Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.
To assemble lasagna:
LAYER ONE: Spread 1½ cups marinara sauce on bottom. Lay 3 long noodles, all touching the same short side of casserole. Take one of the short noodles and lay it along the opposite short side. (This will fill in the gap.) Carefully spread half of the cottage cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup Fontina.LAYER TWO: Place 3 long noodles on top, this time touching the opposite short side. Take 1 short noodle and place it along the other short side of casserole. Pour and spread 1½ cups sauce. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup Fontina.LAYER THREE: Place 3 long noodles on top, touching the same side as layer one, followed by (you guessed it) 1 short noodle on the opposite side. Spread on the remaining cottage cheese mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Fontina.TOP LAYER: Place 3 long noodles touching the same side as layer two, and the remaining short piece on opposite side. Pour on remaining marinara sauce. With your fingers, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup Fontina with 1/8 tsp cornstarch. Sprinkle on top of sauce. Finally, sprinkle on remaining Pecorino.Cover with foil and bake at 375ºF for 35 minutes. Increase oven to 500ºF and remove foil. Bake 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let lasagna rest on stovetop at least 20 minutes to set. Sprinkle on basil.