I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m talking about lasagna here on my author blog. Lasagna was one of my favourite foods growing up, so I couldn’t resist making it one of the comfort foods for my protagonist, Cynthia Webber, in Murder Audit.
I have always loved my mom’s lasagna. I remember feeling so excited when I sat down to eat dinner and realized it was a lasagna night! Yum! The melted mozzarella, the soft noodles, and the Italian flavours all made such a delicious combination. So, when I was looking for a food to comfort my protagonist in Murder Audit, of course I thought of lasagna. Cynthia’s mom, Gayle Roberts, makes the best lasagna too!
This is a classic lasagna recipe with a meat sauce layer and a layer of cottage cheese and spinach. I don’t make it much these days because I try to eat gluten-free and dairy-free (sometimes even Vegan). If you prefer a vegetarian, gluten-free option, this Mexican lasagna is delicious, or give this vegan 8-ingredient zucchini lasagna a try.
But when I want classic, meaty lasagna, I turn to this recipe. I first discovered this recipe on the back of a lasagna noodle box. I wanted to make something for my friend to cheer her up and welcome her to her new apartment. The first thing I thought of was lasagna so I called me mom to get the recipe but she wasn’t home. Since my mom wasn’t home to give me her recipe, luckily the noodles I bought from the store came with a recipe. I love that this recipe is so easy I’ve committed it to memory.
Lasagna noodles (about 9)
500g package of cottage cheese
About 1 cup of fresh chopped spinach (or the smallest frozen package you can find)
1/3 cup of grated parmesan
1 pound lean ground meat of your choice
4 cloves of garlic
Oregano and basil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and add lasagna noodles. Partially cook noodles just until they soften (they will finish cooking in the oven).
While the water is boiling, fry ground meat until browned. Add garlic and as much oregano, basil, salt, and pepper as you like.
Cover the bottom of a lasagna dish with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Add a layer of noodles (about three noodles). Add about one and a half cups of spaghetti sauce to the meat mixture. Stir and spread all of the meat sauce over the noodle layer.
Empty all the cottage cheese into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, spinach, and parmesan cheese. If using frozen spinach, defrost and drain extra water first. Mix well.
Add a layer of noodles on top of the meat sauce and cover with spaghetti sauce. Add all of the cottage cheese mixture and top with remaining noodles. Cover with spaghetti sauce and shredded cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees Celsius. Remove foil and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
When I used to make this lasagna, I would round out the meal with a Caesar salad. I imagine Gayle Roberts would do the same. She would probably have homemade garlic bread and a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc too!
If you try the recipe, be sure to come back and let me know how you like it. If you want to find out how lasagna is Cynthia’s favourite comfort food in Murder Audit, be sure and sign up below for updates.