Lasagna is one of those great dishes that over delivers every time. Put in a little bit of work in the afternoon, and come dinner times you have this bubbly delicious feast that makes every one happy. I like to serve lasagna when we're entertaining because, unlike most of the things I cook, it doesn't involve any last minute rushing around. I can prepare it in the morning, or the night before, and just slip it into the oven before our guests arrive. A quick salad is all I need to put together before we can sit down to eat, and I'm free to spend time with people instead of running around in the kitchen.
This version of the classic that I made last night is my favorite by far. There was no time to take a picture, it was eaten too quickly, so enjoy.
One box lasagna noodles
2 large spicy sausages (I used Cajun style andouille, but I'm sure spicy Italian would work out just fine.)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 15 oz cans Trader Joe's Organic tomato sauce
2 tbsp basil pesto
1 1/2 tsp honey
fresh ground pepper
32 oz small curd cottage cheese
2-3 cups grated mozzarella
Fill a large pot with cold water and set it on the stove top to boil. Add about 1 tbsp course sea salt.
If the sausage is raw, start by squeezing it out of it's tube and into a cast iron skillet. If it is cooked, chop it up and throw it into a blender. Pulse on grind until it's cut into tiny pieces. Then add it to the skillet. Once the sausage is cooked, or warmed through, drain any fat. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the tomato sauce, pesto, honey, a quick dash of basil and a splash or two of vinegar. Simmer together for 15-30 minutes so that the flavors have time to blend together. Don't forget the fresh ground pepper as well. Now, taste your sauce. If it needs salt, or anything else, add it now. I like for the flavors in lasagna sauce to be more intense because all of that cheese can make it bland sometimes.
While the sauce is simmering, add the lasagna noodles to the boiling water, one at a time so they don't stick together. Stir gently until the noodles are soft but still firm, drain water and begin immediately to layer lasagna.
In a 9x113 baking pan lay out 3 whole noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the noodles. Stir the cottage cheese and then spread a thin layer above the sauce. Place another three noodles over the cottage cheese and continue in the same fashion, first sauce then cottage cheese followed by noodles. On the top layer, spread the remaining sauce and then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the whole pan.
Bake in an oven at 375 F for about 45 minutes or until the cheese on top bubbles and browns. Serve with your favorite sides, especially Caesar salad.