Lasagna with Spicy Pork, Spinach and Mushrooms

I call this lasagna “Babysitter Lasagna” because I went to babysit a couple of boys once and the mother had made this ahead of time for me to pop in the oven. The use of cottage cheese instead of ricotta makes the lasagna less watery and more creamy. I love fresh, authentic ricotta, but it’s not available where I live and the grocery store kind just isn’t my style. Hiding spinach in the recipe adds a little more nutrients. I used to use fresh mozzerella, but after making this so many times, fresh mozz just becomes really chewy and watery. I find the storebought pre-grated stuff works better.

This recipe will be followed by two more recipes. One on how to prepare spicy ground pork at home and the other is my homemade marinara. Both of these you can sub storebought, but I love to make it all myself.

Serves 9-15

1 pound of spicy ground pork (storebought it fine)
1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach
1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla works)
1 2-cup container of 2% milkfat cottage cheese
1 egg
3 cups marinara sauce (about 1.5 jars of storebought)
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs. butter
dash of dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
2 cups pre-grated mozzerella and asiago blend cheeses
1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Preheat oven according to the lasagna noodles’ packaging. Usually 350-375 degrees.
In a microwave-safe bowl, add the spinach and a splash of water. Cover bowl with saran wrap, leaving a space for air to get out, and microwave for about 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese, egg, oregano, basil and salt and pepper to taste.
In a frying pan, brown the pork. Set aside. Drain some of the fat, but leave a little in the pan. Add the butter and the mushrooms and saute till mushrooms are soft and slightly browned. Set aside.
Transfer the spinach to the center of a clean dishtowel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Usually I refer to the lasagna noodles’ box for layering instructions.
In a 13x9x2 baking dish, add about 3/4 cups of sauce and 1/3 of the meat. Add three noodles. Add 1/3 of the cottage cheese mix, some spinach, and sprinkle with some of the cheeses. Top with more sauce. Add some meat and mushrooms. Place 3 more noodles on top. Add some cottage cheese, some spinach and cheese. Do this layering one more time, top with the last 3 noodles, sauce, meat, mushrooms, or any other ingredient that’s left. The last thing you add is cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or according to noodles’ packaging. Take off the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until it’s all bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit about 5 minutes before serving.

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