I often make Baked Lasagna for the holidays like the New Year’s. You can make it ahead, freeze and then reheat it the day of the party. Filipinos love Italian food, so, lasagna is always a winner.
When we lived in the Philippines, my family and friends remember how I whipped up lasagna for big gatherings. I’ve reshared my lasagna recipe a lot. But since we moved to America, my recipe has evolved. Nowadays, it is not as cloyingly sweet as the favorite Filipino spaghetti. I’ve changed and added some ingredients, depending on availability and the season. But always, my lasagna is a hearty and savory meal that fills our bellies and hearts with happiness. The best meal is the one shared and enjoyed with those who mean the most to you.
I made this lasagna ahead of the holidays. Like you, I get exhausted after cooking up a storm for Christmas. After December 25th, I am too tired to lift a finger. So, I cooked the meat sauce a few days ahead. The slow heat allowed the tart tomato sauces to turn mildly sweet and thick in texture. After a day or two, the meat sauce had a well-rounded fullness. On the day of assembly, I cooked the lasagna noodles and mixed the white sauce. Finally, I arranged everything in layers. My lasagna was all set to be baked.
It’s been a good year for our family and we are grateful. We look forward with hope and optimism to 2020. An optimistic attitude invites an influx of positive energy in us. I always look to optimism as the “yeast” in the bread of our lives. With optimism, we rise and our spirits soar and bloom. No matter where we are in the world, or how we choose to welcome the New Year, the best tradition we can choose is to revive our spirits and cultivate optimism around us.
Happy New Year, dear friends and family! May 2020 and the coming decade bring you an abundance of good things, new experiences and much happiness.
Easy Baked Lasagna
- Large lasagna baking tray : approximately 12 inches x 16 inches long x 3.5 inches deep
- Large Skillet (12 to 14 inches in diameter); Or a Dutch oven
- Or 2 medium-sized baking trays: 9 inches x 11 inches each (if baking in two trays)
For the meat sauce:
- 1.5 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 can (14. 5 ounces) Whole Tomatoes
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon dried basil
For the white sauce:
- 3 cups cottage cheese
- 2 whole beaten eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
- 1 pound grated or sliced Mozzarella cheese
- 1 box (10 ounces) lasagna noodles
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
To cook the meat sauce:
- In a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven, add the oil. When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, saute the garlic and onions till translucent. Add the ground beef and pork. Combine well and flatten the meat in the skillet so it does not form into mounds of meat. Spread the meat evenly using a spatula or turner.Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce all over the sauteed meat as it turns from pink to brown. Stir meat around.
- Discard the water from the whole tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the meats in the skillet. Crush the whole tomatoes with the back of cooking spoon. Pour the tomato paste and tomato sauce, and broth. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Combine ingredients. Cover and simmer the sauce over medium heat for 45 minutes. Every now and then, stir the meat sauce so the bottom does not burn.
To make the white sauce:
- Using a medium-sized bowl, combine the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
To cook the pasta:
- Cook according to package directions. Boil water in a large stockpot (about 12-quarts size). Add the salt and extra virgin olive oil. Cover for water to boil.When water is briskly boiling, add the lasagna noodles one at a time. Spread them out like a fan and make them submerge in the boiling waterCook the lasagna pasta 'al dente' for 11 minutes (or check package directions).When pasta is cooked, drain liquid. Set the cooked pasta aside. Lay the noodles flat on a tray, never overlapping.
To assemble lasagna:
- In a large baking pan, line the bottom with about 4 lasagna pasta noodles in a single, flat layer. Do not overlap the noodles or it will not bake evenly.Using a ladle, pour a few tablespoons of the white sauce over the pasta.Then, add a few tablespoons of the meat sauce over the white sauce.Repeat process with layers in this order: Lasagna pasta, white sauce, meat sauce. End with the final meat sauce layer on top. Add the grated or sliced Mozarella cheese all over.
To bake the lasagna:
- *Once assembled, the lasagna can be frozen for a few weeks or else kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Make sure to cover the entire lasagna with plastic wrap, then a top covering of foil - all to prevent freezer burn.Of if desired at this stage, pre-heat the oven at 350 F degrees.Bake the lasagna, uncovered, for 30 minutes till the top gets bubbly. Then set the oven to Broil. Broil the lasagna for 5 minutes, so the sides get toasty and brown. *When broiling, set the timer and keep watch by the oven or the lasagna will burn.Serve warm.
- I use a metal or foil pan for the lasagna if I intend to freeze it after assembly. I never use glassware to freeze or it gets brittle when frozen and breaks.But if I intend to bake the lasagna right away, a nice oven-proof metal, enamel or glass roasting pan is what I use. This can go from the oven to the table.
To bake frozen Lasagna:
- Thaw the tray of frozen uncooked lasagna for at least 1 hour, at room temperature. (*Note: You cannot thaw lasagna in the microwave if it's in a metal pan).When the lasagna has thawed after about 1 hour, preheat oven at 350 F.Bake the lasagna at 350 F, for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, insert tip of a sharp knife in the center of the lasagna. If the knife feels cold to the touch, then continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes more. When lasagna is bubbly on top and completely baked, set oven to Broil. Broil the lasagna for 5 minutes till top is brown and sides are crusty. Set a timer and keep watch while broiling or else the lasagna will burn if left unattended.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe?I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. I also have more classic recipes inspired by my mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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