If you’re a cheese fan like me, meals like lasagna have to be gooey with cheese. There’s nothing like seeing that cheese stretch as you dig out a slice of extra cheesy lasagna! But if you happen to also love spicy food like me, then an add kick of chilli into the lasagna just makes it that much better.
Cheese, Cheese and Vegetables?
The recipe uses three types of cheese. Cause I’m extra like that. I use full fat mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Hey, cottage cheese is just healthier. Don’t bother pointing out calorie count in the rest of the ingredients though. It’s just like how I enjoy eating a feast and having a Diet Coke.
Besides the cheese, there’s red bell pepper, spinach and a bit of chilli. Being a mom, I’ve learned to sneak vegetables in wherever I can. Since this recipe is extra cheesy, even the vegetables are ooey gooey yummy. As for the chilli, my kids hardly notice the little bit of spice but if you’re serving your young ones and are worried about it, just omit the chilli. You can always add chilli flakes to your own serving of lasagna.
Let’s Get Cooking
This is a fun dish to put together. The ingredient list can be a bit daunting but it’s really easy to cook and put together. The end result is gorgeous. You’ll and your family will be digging into this extra cheesy lasagna with gusto. Every hearty layer is filled with flavour.
The following ingredients are enough to fill a 9 x 13 inch dish which can easily feed a whole family. If you’re cooking for two, just divide the portions between two smaller dishes and freeze one to bake later.
- 450g minced beef
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 5 cloves garlic finely diced
- 200g tomato paste
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes in sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 small red bell pepper chopped into about 1cm cubes
- 40g (2) red chilies – thinly sliced
- 1 tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 3 tbsp coconut oil (can be substituted with olive oil or canola oil)
- Boxed lasagna sheets
- 300g (3 cups) mozzarella cheese, grated
- 225g (1 cup) cottage cheese
- 20g (1/4 cup) parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 large egg
- 120g local spinach
- ¼ tsp salt
How to Make Meat Sauce:
- Place a deep pan over medium/high heat and add 3 tbsp coconut oil and diced onions. Sauté until the onions are slightly translucent.
- Then add the minced beef and cook for about 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
- Add garlic and sauté another minute.
- Add tomato paste, canned chopped tomatoes, ½ cup of water, sweet soy sauce, chopped red bell pepper, chilli, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp oregano and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook 5 minutes. The sauce should not be too thick. If you find that the consistency is more like bolognese sauce, add another ¼ cup of water.
How to Make Cheese Sauce:
- In a mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, 1 egg and ¼ tsp salt. Set aside.
Putting the Lasagna all together:
- Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce in the bottom of a deep 9×13 casserole dish.
- Add 3 noodles, spread on 1/2 of the remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese.
- Add another 3 noodles and lay the spinach on top. Spread all the cottage cheese sauce on top. Then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Add a final layer of 3 noodles on top of the spinach and cheese sauce. Top with remaining half of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with 1 and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
- Lightly cover your casserole dish with foil. Try to keep the foil off the top cheese layer so that the cheese doesn’t stick when it melts.
- Bake at 180C for 45 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes in order to achieve that golden cheese colour.
- Remove from the oven and let the extra cheesy lasagna sit for 30 min. This allows the layers and flavours to come together nicely.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If your casserole dish is not deep and you find your cheese layer sitting right to the top, you can try using toothpicks to create pillars that will hold the foil off the cheese. Poke around 10 toothpicks over the surface of your lasagna then lay the foil over the top.
- If you’re cooking for a small family, make two smaller lasagnas with the portions given here. Bake one and freeze the other for another day. It’ll come out just as beautiful.
- Let your fresh out of the oven lasagna rest before cutting into it. I know it’s tempting looking at all that melty cheesy goodness but waiting for at least 15 to 20 minutes will allow the layers to hold together.
All that remains to do is dig into the extra cheesy lasagna. May every bite be delicious and so very comforting.