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Who doesn’t love lasagna? The layers of pasta, ooey-gooey cheese and bright, meaty marinara, covered in more cheese and baked to perfection. My children love when their grandmother or I make it. My daughter always requests it for her birthday and it has become a tradition for me to make it for my family on Valentine’s Day.
On the other hand, who has time on a regular basis to make a traditional lasagna? To assemble it correctly is rather time intensive — boiling the noodles, cooking the meat sauce, preparing the cheese mixture and then layering everything in a dish and baking for an hour. My family could eat this every month and never grow tired of it, however, I do not posses the time or desire to make it every month.
So I began making this Italian Casserole for them. It’s a dish I created in my early married days when time and money were tight. I hadn’t made it in years, but, in an attempt to bring something new to the table, I brought it back. The meal was received with high praise and whenever my kids see that I am making it there are shouts of joy (with exception of my 8 year old, who isn’t fond of anything cheesy). Better than that, the meal takes little more than 30 minutes to put together and 30 minutes to bake. You can’t get much better than that! Keep in mind that the ingredient amounts that I list will feed my crowd of eight plus some! You might want to adjust accordingly if you are feeding less than six people and/or don’t want a lot of leftovers.
- Start with two pounds of ground beef. (You could substitute one pound ground sausage for the beef for a more exciting flavor profile). Brown it and drain.
- Add 8 cups of your favorite spaghetti or marinara sauce. I have begun making my own, I will add the recipe for that soon.
- While you are browning the ground beef, boil 20 ounces of your favorite pasta until just tender, then drain. My favorite pasta for this recipe is penne, but you could easily use bowtie or rotini just the same.
- Now its time to gather your remaining ingredients. You will need: 6-8 cups of mozzerella and parmesean cheese, and 16 ounces of cottage cheese. You will mix these ingredients together with the pasta and meat sauce in a large bowl.
- Now that it’s mixed, all that’s left is to pour the mixture in a casserole dish, sprinkle some mozzerella cheese and parsely on top, and bake at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes or until bubbly. This recipe fit into an extra large 10×15 pan with some overflow into a 7×11 pan. After baking, I put the 7×11 in the refrigerator for an easy lunch the next day.