Although my husband is part German and I’m part Filipino…somewhere down our ancestry lines someone had to be Italian! Our family loves all things pasta so that has to be the case! We made our 21-Layer Easy Lasagna last night and it was spot-on as always. It is really simple to make. For one, I’m not about re-creating the wheel. If someone perfected a product, then I’m using that product! Like Toll House Cookie Dough…um, break and bake…why fight perfection?! Or Pillsbury Grands Biscuits? Hello, it says GRAND?! Some things are just perfect and there’s no need to fight it. That is how we feel about spaghetti sauce. Our go-to favorite comes out of a can. Yep, I said it…a can. AND, it costs only $1.00 everywhere! There are tons of expensive jar sauces out there and painstaking recipes to make your own sauce from scratch but seriously, the Hunt’s Garlic and Herb sauce is top-notch! It is versatile too! Perfect for spaghetti, lasagna & manicotti! It is really a fantastic sauce full of flavor!
I remember going to Spaghetti Warehouse as a young child and thinking, “Woah, 15 layer lasagna?!” When I was younger, I thought it meant 15 layers of noodles, doh! In actuality, the 15 layers included all the layers between the noodles. Well, now I’m the adult and I make a mean 21 layer lasagna, LOL! So, here is our family favorite 21-Layer Easy Lasagna because easy is how I roll!
Printable Recipe: Easy Yummy Lasagna
1 package of lasagna noodles (with at least 15 sheets of noodle in it)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 small onion (not in photo)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic (see photo in directions)
1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 teaspoon salt (not in photo)
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (not in photo)
1 can Hunts Garlic & Herb spaghetti sauce
1 tub of large curd cottage cheese
4 cups finely shredded mozzarella (or shredded Italian cheese blend)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13 glass, metal or foil pan with non-stick cooking spray (spray the sides too).
In a large and deep stockpot, follow package directions and cook the lasagna noodles (be sure to add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the water to help prevent the noodles from sticking). I want to share with you a trick I learned over the years. You know those clawed pasta spoons? Don’t use them when cooking! It tears your noodles to shreds. If you are cooking spaghetti, fine…but you want your lasagna noodles to keep their shape so clawed spoons are a no-no for lasagna noodles. Stir frequently with a large wooden spoon (or in my case, a plastic spoon shaped like a wooden spoon) to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other and to the bottom of the pan. I always set the timer following the directions on the package, I’m pretty sure the noodle manufacturer tested several gazillion batches to come up with the perfect cook time…so again, why fight it? Go with the flow folks! When I set the timer and use a wooden spoon, the noodles cook perfectly every time. Once the noodles are fully cooked, place the pot in your sink and run cold (not ice-cold) water right into the pan. Don’t drain the pan just let the cold water force out the hot water. You don’t want to dump or toss your noodles because they are delicate and you want them to keep their shape. Dump out a little bit of the water. Leave the noodles in the cooled water and remove pot from sink (put it on the counter, you will be rinsing more stuff and need the sink).
Add olive oil to a large frying pan. Sauté onions & garlic over medium heat. Add ground chuck. Cook till brown all the way through the meat (mine still has some pink, so I will keep cooking this meat up for a couple more minutes). Once fully cooked, drain the meat (to get rid of excess grease). Add meat mix back to the frying pan. Pressed for time? I always am and I cook the meat mix up while also cooking the noodles. Yep, I multi-task quite well, lol!
Pour spaghetti sauce over meat mix and warm sauce over medium heat.
Drain and rinse off the cottage cheese. Place in a medium-sized bowl.
Add the egg, salt and pepper to the cottage cheese and stir well with a fork.
Layer 1: Spoon a light layer of sauce onto bottom of prepared glass or metal pan.
Layer 2: Place 3 noodles in an even layer in the pan.
Layer 3: Add 3 large spoonfuls of meat sauce on top of the noodles. Using the back of your spoon, spread out sauce into a thin layer (I put one large spoonful on top of each noodle and spread it across that noodle).
Layer 4: Sparingly spoon the cottage cheese mix over the sauce.
Layer 6-17: repeat steps 7-10. Layer 18: place 3 noodles in an even layer on top of the shredded cheese. If this is your first time ever making lasagna, be sure that your noodles are going in the same direction on top of each other (do not criss-cross the noodles). When it is all cooked up, you should have 3 rows of lasagna that you can cut into 4 sections making 12 large portions of lasagna. Layer 19: Spoon all of the remaining meat sauce on top of the noodles and spread it out evenly over the noodles. Layer 20: Spoon all of the remaining cottage cheese mix evenly over the meat sauce. Layer 21: Sprinkle the remainder of the shredded cheese evenly over the cottage cheese.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until hot all the way through every layer.
Remove from oven and let lasagna rest for approximately 5-10 minutes before cutting. Otherwise, your layers will be one sloppy mess. I personally don’t care, whether it is perfectly layered or slopped onto my plate…either way it is FANTASTIC! Yep, we were using the fine china again for this meal, lol! Enjoy!