This gorgeous handmade ceramic dish came from Judy At The Rink on Prytania, which specializes in local artistry & creations. Check out those awesome lil’ fleur de lis!!!!
Kathy was my very first New Orleans friend, as she was also my very first New Orleans coworker, and she took me under her Obi-Wan-like Wing O’Cheese, and schooled me in the ways of cheesemongering. Which was not a word until just now. Use it: be a trend setter.
Our former home-away-from-home, the cheese & gourmet meats counter at MWC Metairie.
After I finished gushing over how gorgeous this dish was, Kathy made me promise that the first dish I made in it had to be super-cheesy, in homage to our fromage-y friendship.
So, after sorting through my Pile O’ Super-Cheesy recipes, I decided upon something with layers and layers and LAYERS of cheese: LASAGNA!
Mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta* cheese…THREE kinds of cheese! How’s that, K-Rod???
*note: the below recipe uses an alternative to ricotta. Just FYI.
PLUS…this lasagna has a fun lil’ not-so-secret ingredient: Beet Greens.
For reals. My friend Babsy grew beets in her garden and provided me with a bunch. The beets themselves got roasted with some other root veggies, but Babs told me that the greens can be cooked down & essentially taste like spinach.
People put spinach in lasagna all the time…so why NOT a super green like beet tops? The greens have a mild flavor like Swiss chard, and are chock full of vitamins (A, C, K, E) and minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium).
Got a finicky kid who doesn’t like greens? MIX IT INTO A LASAGNA. Along with a crap-ton of other veggies (onions, bell peppers, mushrooms). Amid all that delicious pasta, tomato sauce and CHEEEEEESE, who would notice?
Do you see any veggies in there? Because I sure don’t.
Most lasagnas utilize a 9x13 pan, but our pan is about an 8x8. However, the amount of meat/cheese mixture I made for this recipe would pretty easily fill a 9x13 pan. We had meat/sauce left over & ended up using it to make spaghetti later in the week.
The 8x8 pan makes about 4 servings.
About 4 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked & cut in half (the 8x8 pan has three layers of noodles, and it takes just a little more than 1 noodle halved to cover it. The fourth noodle is for filling gaps. If you make a 9x13 pan, cook 6 noodles & don’t halve them)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch beet greens, chopped (tops of about 3 beets, washes & minced)*
1/2 bell pepper, diced*
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz mushrooms, washed & sliced*
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (we like Prego, Roasted Garlic & Parmesan, or the Italian Sausage & Garlic)
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained* (I prefer the garlic & oregano infused version)
0.5 lb Italian turkey sausage
1/2 pound small curd cottage cheese (or ricotta if you have it—we didn’t)
1.5 tsp dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella
* Any of the Veggies are entirely optional, but I like to add them for the extra healthfulness factor and to make this more of an “all-in-one” meal. If there’s anything you don’t like in this recipe, feel free to remove it, or double up on one of the other veggies. I won’t know, and I won’t hold it against you.
In a medium sauce pan, boil your lasagna noodles (OR you can use the No Boil type noodles & save yourself a step.) Then set aside to drain.
Grab two skillets (or a skillet & a sauce pan/wok, if that’s what you’ve got). In the larger cooking vessel, heat your olive oil over medium, and sauté your veggies & garlic until softened, then add your pasta sauce. You might not need the whole jar, so just add ‘til you’re happy with the consistency. We don’t want the mixture to be too saucy, or too dry. In the other pan, brown your meat.
In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, egg, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, & parmesan.
When your meat is fully browned, add it to your sauce/veggie mixture.
And now, we begin the layering. Start by putting a few tablespoons worth of sauce in the bottom of the pan to make sure your first layer of noodles don’t burn or stick to the pan. Then layer to match the following pattern:
(listed from top down, i.e. read from the bottom up):
last of the mozzarella
1/4 cup sauce
1/2 sauce/meat mixture (reserving 1/4 cup for the top)
1/2 cottage cheese
1/2 sauce/meat mixture
1/2 cottage cheese mixture
1 layer noodles
2-3 tbsp sauce
VOILA! (PS—you can totally sprinkle a lil’ extra parmesan on top. I won’t tell.)
Now cover with aluminum foil (be sure to “tent” it a bit if your lasagna is above the edge of your pan, like mine is above. Then bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil & let bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is nice & browned.
Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting so that the layers firm up a good bit.
Then SERVE & DEVOUR!
NutriFacts: (per serving)
Total Fat 27.0 g
Saturated Fat 10.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.1 g
Cholesterol 119.1 mg
Sodium 1,017.5 mg
Potassium 271.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 64.7 g
Dietary Fiber 9.3 g
Sugars 13.3 g
Protein 44.5 g