Monday, April 8, 2013

Lamb and Feta Lasagna


Let's say it upfront: Lasagna is a giant pain in the ass. It takes at least an hour and involves a dozen dirty dishes. Lasagna will not make you skinny. Your hair will smell like fried onions.

On the other hand: You can make lasagna whenever you have an hour, and refrigerate or freeze it until you need dinner. Pretty much everyone likes lasagna. And your hair will smell like fried onions, if you're into that kind of thing.

So, here's a variation on a dish I saw in March's issue of Cooking Light. Don't worry - I put back all the fat. If you're on a diet, have a salad instead.

Lamb and Feta Lasagna
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
12 oz ground lamb
12 oz ground beef
8 cloves garlic, minced, divided
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed or ground
1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped fine
crushed tomatoes, 1 28-oz can AND 1 14-oz can
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
24 oz creamy cottage cheese (or ricotta if you prefer)
1 cup crumbled feta, divided
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 egg
1 9-oz box no-boil lasagna noodles.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions for about eight minutes with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Add the meat and cook for another ten minutes, stirring to break up lumps. Add six cloves of garlic, oregano, fennel, rosemary, tomatoes, red pepper, sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and one 14-oz can of water to the pan. Bring to a boil, simmer for twelve minutes, and take off the heat to cool. The sauce should be thin and a little salty - remember, it has to hydrate and season the dry noodles. Taste to see if you need the last 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, half the feta, parmesan and egg.

Unless you find scrubbing with Brillo pads therapeutic, grease your 9x13 pan. I used an 8x11 casserole, which looks a little nicer on the table. It's not rocket science, you'll make it fit.

Ladle a 1/4" layer of sauce on the bottom of your dish, and place three or four noodles on it. Spread a third of the cottage cheese mixture on the noodles, then ladle a quarter of the tomato sauce over. Repeat twice, then once more without the cheese. If you have extra noodles, you can break them up and boil for whichever kid doesn't like his food touching. There's always one.

Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes at 350. Then pull off the foil, sprinkle with the remaining feta, and return to the oven for another ten minutes. Rest the lasagna for ten minutes at room temperature before serving. This may not be the prettiest dish ever, but it does taste amazing.

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