Mama Loves Mambo Italiano
Guess who’s cooking dinner again, self-willing and all. From Spain this lazy girl gets cooking Italiano, no less.
Lasagna being my all time favorite Italian cuisine, I have tried it a couple of times. I find using two different types of sauces key. Ergo, frozen-lasagna is universally acknowledged not to be considered in the proper lasagna family. I once tried making my own Béchamel sauce (a.k.a. the white sauce) from scratch, but that did not turn out as well as planned. I couldn’t find any nutmeg among the condiments at home, so I rang my mother up and asked what would be an appropriate substitute. She replied, cinnamon. When I tell people this story, they are appalled, however, it sounds much worse than it actually tasted. It was a very interesting christmas-y take on the conventional lasagna. Needless to say, I have not been asked to repeat that recipe ever again.
I have the tendency of ripping out things I find interesting in the newspaper. Be it a nice dress I intend to sew at a later date, or a sale I have to remember to check out. Sometimes, not very often, I do venture in the foods section. Generally I’m realistic and don’t tear anything away from there, since I find myself rarely in the kitchen, let alone cooking in it! But apparently I had taken out a recipe for a healthy outtake on the much adored lasagna. I’ve recently put the recipe on the fridge, in hopes my brother will notice it and surprise me! No such luck, so I have taken fate into my own hands.
I almost followed the recipe to the t, there are always somethings you can’t find, or can’t be assed to find, at the grocery store. So here’s my lazy-version:
Lean-Mean Lasagna, cottage cheese style
- 500gr ground beef
- 3 cans chopped tomatoes (with basil)
- 1 relatively large jar of tomato purée (the recipe said 2 small cans, but they would require a can opener, and well, that’s not ended well for me in the past)
- 1 box of Lasagna noodles (not so fresh-fresh)
- 2 big cans of cottage cheese (which will act the role of the “white sauce” for this night’s performance)
- 1 bag of grated cheese (remember there can never be too much cheese)
- 1 garlic (technically 5 clovers)
- 2 tbs sugar
- an assortment of Italian spices (which I coincidentally found among the condiments, seemed more fitting than that infamous Season All)
- Freshly grounded black pepper (with a dash of white grounded pepper, for I mixed up with the salt) and saltFinely slice the garlic (I used the thingamajig that makes hair for troll-clay, its technical name is probably sounds more adult-like) and fry on a pan with a little olive oil. Add the ground meat. Fry until the pink fades to grey. Spice it up!In a pot, mix the chopped tomatoes and purée. Again, add spice, and blend in the sugar. Now you can add the meat mixture into the tomato madness. Taste it, see if it’s bad? If so, add more spices.Preheat the oven at 200°C. Let the pot simmer for 10 min.Now, in a oven-safe mold, repeat after me:
- Thin layer of red sauce
- Layer of lasagna noodles
- Thin layer of yummi cottage cheese
- Layer of lasagna noodles
- Back to step 1.When the mold is filled to the brim, our you run out of ingredient, STOP! Last but not least, sprinkle shredded cheese over everything. Let it bake for 45-50 min.Bon appétit !
Surprisingly, the cottage cheese version didn’t taste that much different from the normal Béchamel one, only slightly sweeter. Little bit of disappointment, I was hoping for some true variation.
I guess the cottage cheese is a healthier option than Béchamel. Besides, you can always find the cottage cheese at the grocery store. Something you can’t say about ready-made Béchamel. I have been known of accidentally buying Carbonara sauce instead. Yes, I’m a silly girl that can’t read labels.
Might cook this again. At least the sweet after-taste was an interesting change in palate. But before I settle with this version as the lasagna, I want to try some others. Who can remember the Mexican lasagna that caused a great stir a few years back? The ones who do, please-please-please, IM-me the recipe.