It is no secret that I love food. Asking me what my favorite food is, is like asking me what my favorite movie is. In both of these cases, on any given day, the answer will be entirely different because I just love too many to give any sort of stable answer. But, I think the answer most often given to this question would be “lasagna” (and The Sound of Music, if you’re curious). Italian food has always been my go-to, my constant, my mainstay. And lasagna, my true love.
I make many versions of lasagna- ground beef, pork, veggie, some versions with wine, some without. Some are pesto based, some loaded with creamy béchamel. Sometimes I get crazy and throw in peas or artichoke hearts. But this recipe is the one I make most often. This is for many reasons, my children being the biggest one. The simplicity of this version is appealing to kids and grownups alike, and the one enjoyed most often in my home. My kids love the fun rolled up design of the noodles, but you can most certainly assemble this in the “traditional” lasagna style, layered in a 9×13 pan. I hope that you and your family enjoy this dish as much as I and my family do!
One dozen boxed lasagna noodles
4 slices of bacon
29 oz. can plain tomato sauce
One yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. whipped cream cheese
1 c. cottage cheese
2 c. sour cream
2 c. shredded mozzarella, plus 1 c. for topping just before baking
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and peper to taste
grated parmesan to taste
1 T. butter, for greasing lasagna pan
If you follow my blog, you will very soon realize that I have a very, very passionate relationship with bacon fat. I use it in most everything, and refuse to apologize. Since I have lived on my own, there has always been a special mug in my fridge reserved specially for bacon fat. To love me is to just accept this. It makes everything so much better.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Put a large pot of salted water on the stovetop and set to boil. This will be for your lasagna noodles in a little bit
Cut the slices of bacon into 1/2″ pieces, sauté in medium saucepan until well browned
Remove bacon pieces from fat with a slotted spoon and set the bacon aside for later
Into the bacon fat, add the chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté until slightly golden brown. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
*Note: At this point, you may need to deglaze your pan if there’s a lot of browning on the bottom of it. This simply means to add a bit of liquid to get the delicious brown bits from the bottom. You can use water, stock, or wine for this. Just a few tablespoons will do. Once that has evaporated, move on to the next step.
Pour in tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Season again with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
While the sauce is simmering, make the cheese filling
Combine cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, 2 c. mozzarella, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to thoroughly combine, set aside
Add lasagna noodles to boiling, salted water and cook until al dente (soft, but with a slight bite in the middle). You don’t want to overcook the noodles because they will be going into the oven to cook further once the lasagna is assembled.
While the noodles are cooking, grease your pan with butter. For this rollup presentation, I like to use a standard sized pie plate. Spread the butter around with a paper towel or napkin to avoid greasy fingers.
Add cream to the sauce and continue to cook on low heat until sauce is heated through
Once noodles are cooked, remove them from water and lay them on a clean dish towel to dry.
*Note: Don’t skip this drying step. It’s important that all of the excess water is dried from the noodles. Otherwise, you may end up with a soupy lasagna
Add about 1/2 c. sauce to the bottom of the greased pie plate and spread around the bottom. This will act as a base for your lasagna rollups
Spread the cheese mixture over the tops of your noodles and roll (this is a great part for the little ones to help with!)
Place rollups into the pie plate, standing vertically. Ladle the remaining sauce all around the edges, and anywhere there’s room. The saucier the better! Top with remaining mozzarella and bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving so that the sauces have time to set.
Top each piece with reserved bacon pieces and freshly grated parmesan
Dive in and enjoy!