This is not your Nonna’s lasagna mainly because I didn’t grow up with a Nonna. I had a Mamie and an Oma and they didn't make lasagna. Since my children are Canadian—and what’s more Canadian than incorporating foods from different countries and making them our own—I’ve learned to make it my way. That means using cheese and lots of it.
If your family is anything like mine, spinach isn’t always a favourite. Here it only gets 50% approval, from my son and me. To get the other two to eat it I have to be wily and underhanded. Am I advocating hiding vegetables in a dish? You bet. The beauty of spinach is that once it’s cooked the texture is soft and it blends well with the rest of the meat filling.
I use a 13.5” x 9” casserole dish. While that is large, it allows me to make one dish that serves a family of four two complete dinners. Anything to save some time. If you have a smaller appetite—or you're not feeding a teen—the recipe can easily be cut in half.
Chop onion, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over low-medium heat and cook to soften.
Add ground beef and lightly brown the meat.
Stir in the chopped basil, minced garlic, Provençal herbs, salt, and pepper.
Once the meat and other ingredients are thoroughly cooked and blended, add the frozen spinach and let simmer.
Add pasta sauce and gently blend the meat mixture. I used a tomato basil sauce. Continue simmering.
While the meat is simmering grate your three cheeses. Set aside ½ the cheddar.
In a mixing bowl combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella and ½ the grated cheddar.
Season with pepper.
Combine the remaining cheddar with the parmesan in a separate bowl and set aside. This is for the lasagna topping
Remove meat and spinach mixture from stove.
Spread 2-3 tablespoons of pasta sauce directly into the bottom of the casserole dish to prevent pasta from sticking.
Add one layer of pasta and spoon ½ the meat mixture topped by ½ the cottage cheese mixture.
Follow with a second layer of pasta and repeat with the remaining meat and cottage cheese.
Top the lasagna with a final layer of pasta.
Spread 2-3 tablespoons of pasta sauce onto the noodles to prevent them from drying during baking.
Top with the cheddar-parmesan combo.
Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 35 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
Remove and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Let’s not fool ourselves; lasagna—even one packed with nutrients-rich spinach—is comfort food so I serve it with a light salad made with red leaf lettuce, onions, sliced cucumber, and seasoned with a light vinaigrette.
For more sneaky ways to get your family eating veggies and drinking—yes, drinking—red cabbage, check out this juicing recipe. And if you really want to get your cheese on, you’re going to love this take on a traditional, French tartiflette.