April 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

As a kid growing up in a tiny (population 200) town, there were no Italian restaurants. Actually, there were only about 4 restaurants and none of them served much more than hamburgers and fries. Back then, not coming from an Italian family, our only option for spaghetti was Chef Boy-ar-dee in a box. We actually thought it was pretty nifty…the package contained a box of spaghetti, a can of sauce, and a small tin of parmesan cheese. We LOVED it. I don’t even think you could find spaghetti at our grocery store, unless it was Chef Boy-ar-dee. At about 50 cents a serving, it was a reasonably priced meal and suited the whole family.

Would I eat Chef Boy-ar-dee today? Probably. But, you can’t find it anymore. So, what’s a spaghetti lover to do? Yes, I could make my own sauce, but I’m not that much of a cook. I have tried lots of sauces on the market, Barilla (they make my favorite pasta), Prego, Emeril’s, and just about everything else on the grocer’s shelves. But, the bottom line? Give me Ragu. I like the chunky varieties the best, like Garden Combination and Mushroom and Green Pepper, but I will even eat the plain style, which is the little man’s favorite. He’s not a fan of fancy anything.

If you like spaghetti, you might try this recipe for a change. It’s simple and I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t like it.  It’s one of my favorites.

Mom’s Lasagna

9-12 lasagna noodles
1 16 oz. carton of small curd cottage cheese or ricotta
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef (you can use turkey or a combination with Italian sausage)
1 large and 1 small jar of Ragu
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

Cook lasagna noodles in a large pot with a teaspoon of olive oil or vegetable oil; until al dente. The oil will help keep the noodles from sticking.

In a skillet, brown ground meat. Drain excess fat. Stir in 1 large jar and 1 small jar of Ragu, your choice of style.

In a small bowl, blend together cottage cheese (you can use ricotta, but I wouldn’t) and 1 egg. Add 3/4 teaspoon of dried oregano, a dash of salt and pepper. Blend together with a spoon.

In a 9×13″ pan, spoon about 1/4 cup of the  sauce mixture and spread it around, just to keep the noodles from sticking. Lay 3-4 noodles across. Spoon about 1/3 of sauce mixture over noodles. Add 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture by dropping spoonfuls and spreading them out a bit. Top with 1/3 of  the mozzarella, sprinkled evenly. Repeat two more times. Sprinkle grated parmesan over the top and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until heated through. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Check out Ragu’s website for some of their recipes.


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