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January 17, 2014

Meatball Lasagna

The summer before my first year of college I worked at a little Italian bistro in Lexington called the Bistro on Main.  The cook was an old school American-Italian woman (think Tony's Aunt on Who's the Boss) that had really great recipes.  One of her specialties was her lasagna.  It seemed like it took days - a huge process.  She started by making a huge batch of meatballs, then she crumbled those in between the layers of pasta and cheese, then she served it topped with a ladle of red sauce.  I loved the texture and the flavor that the meatball mixture gave to the lasagna.

I created this lasagna recipe with that idea in mind, but fewer steps.  It is more or less a basic lasagna recipe, but I added bread crumbs to the meat mixture, along with tomato paste to achieve a sturdy (not sure if that is the correct way to describe...?) meat mixture - similar to a meatball.  If you have extra energy (or some red sauce stock piled in the freezer) by all means, serve a ladle of red sauce over the top.

This is Mike's new favorite - I've been stocking our freezer, making extra batches of dinner each night.  I need some more inspiration for freezer meals as we approach the busy Valentine's season for the store... ideas please!

serves 8-10

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2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup white onion, minced
3 pounds of ground beef
6 cloves of garlic
1 - 16 oz. can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs
2 - 8 ounce blocks of mozzarella
20 ounces of cottage cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan (or grana padano)
one box of lasagna noodles

Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.

To make the meat mixture, in a large saute pan, cook onions in olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Add beef and cook until browned.  Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add seasoning and spices - stir to combine.  Add tomato paste, stirring well to combine.  Add a touch of water to loosen, if necessary.

Make fresh breadcrumbs in the food processor - about 2-3 pieces.  Add bread crumbs to the meat mixture.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook just short of directed time.

Next, make cheese mixture.  Shred the mozzarella cheese.  In a large mixing bowl, combine mozzarella, cottage cheese and parmesan.

Assemble the lasagna in a large baking dish.  Start by putting a thin layer of the meat mixture on the bottom. Add a layer of noodles. Next, add 1/3 of the meat mixture, then 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Top with a layer of pasta, then repeat 2 more times, ending with a layer of cheese.

Bake at 350 for 45-1 hour, depending on size of pan.  Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before cutting.  Best if made the day before and reheated.


  1. Yum! This needs to be added to the freezer meals we've got going. I've been cooking out of "Not Your Mama's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook." The meals are fairly easy and delicious, without requiring a lot of pre-packaged foods to prepare. So far, all of them have been toddler and husband approved. "Lawnmower Pie" has been the biggest hit so far.

  2. my in-laws from calabria make lasagna with hundreds of little teeny, tiny hand-rolled meatballs. it's an all-day-in-the-kitchen project, but the texture is amazing. i am definitely going to try your recipe--it seems like it might save me hours :) keep up the awesome work, i love your website and blog.

  3. A group of us in Lexington started a "supper swap" group and have been swapping freezer meals for four months now. Each one of us makes several of one meal, then we swap with each person in the group so we go home with a variety of meals. It saves so much time in the kitchen and it's so nice having those meals for busy nights! We have had a large variety of meals, from casseroles, to pastas, to bbq ribs and teriyaki chicken to homemade pizza. Thanks for this recipe and maybe you could participate one month when you know you'll be in town :)

  4. Your lasagna looks fantastic! Love the meatball texture you created, sounds absolutely delicious! And your salad from your previous post sounds like a wonderful side to this!

  5. What about Shepoards pie? I bet you would have a fabulous twist to make it even more delicious

  6. This looks delicious, and I can't wait to try it. I was wondering about how you reheat it after freezing. Do you defrost it first, or heat it up still frozen? If still frozen, how long and at what time? I am new to freezer meals but would like to start. Thanks!

  7. Jenny,
    Just wanted to say I received my package from your shop and everything was great. From the quality of the products to the beautiful packaging I was very satisfied. Thank you and I look forward to your new Valentine's products.

  8. Anonymous2:16 PM

    I was just trying to figure out what to make for a dinner we're hosting with friends... this looks perfect! thanks for sharing.

  9. Where do you find those freezer containers? I can only find a pack of 500 on Amazon. Once I can find a freezer to oven container this will be made!

  10. how much less ingredens for a lasgna for just one or two people 3 pounds of meats would feed me ofr a long time, :P longer than i need thanks


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