I grew up consuming Garfield comic books like they were candy.
My childhood consisted of spaghetti-os, boxed mac and cheese and jigg’s dinner with wild game; thus, when I saw Garfield routinely steal his owner’s freshly made lasagna, my relentless childhood curiosity was piqued.
Naturally, I had Nan driven nearly mad with questions.
What was lasagna? Where could I get one? Would you make one for me if I fill up the wood box?
Finally, she had enough of my constant nagging and dragged me to the local grocery store where we picked up the ingredients for our first plain lasagna.
Whether it was the novelty of finally tasting Garfield’s signature weakness, my grandmother’s incredible cooking or something else entirely, I fell head over heels in love with lasagna.
From then on if there was enough money left over at the end of the week we would walk to the grocery store to select our ingredients, and I would peek over the stove and countertops, rapt as I witnessed my grandmother forge her miraculous creation.
This perhaps is where my love of cooking originated from, but who could really boil it down to a single event? (Although Garfield did singlehandedly create my hatred of Mondays.)
It’s clear from viral videos such as “Imma Teach You How To Make Lasagna” (credit to YouTuber and mumble rapper Brandon Scott) that it’s considered an extremely popular dish that’s difficult for most to prepare.
My own lasagna recipe is far from plain and includes ingredients such as ricotta cheese, kale and a few secret others, but this hybrid recipe for a lasagna that’s much easier to make at home is by far one of the best I’ve ever eaten, and was first introduced to me by the tough-as-nails connoisseur (otherwise known as my butt-head father) Carson Bursey. A dish that he’s often referred to as …
- 2 lb. ground beef, lean
- 1 container cottage cheese
- 1 each green, yellow and red peppers, diced
- 1 container fresh spinach, finely diced
- ½ box dry lasagna noodles (NOT oven-ready)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ block mozzarella or pizza cheese
- 1 tbsp. parmesan cheese
- ½ can of tomato soup
- 1 can herb and garlic tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp.salt
- Add salt to a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil.
- In a small amount of olive oil, sauté onions and ground beef in a large pan on medium heat until meat is browned, and onions are translucent.
- Stir in peppers and reduce heat by half. Cover pan.
- By now water should be ready for noodles. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add noodles one at a time and stir frequently to avoid sticking.
- Add tomato sauce and tomato soup to meat mix and blend.
- Combine cottage cheese and spinach into a paste and set aside.
- After 10 minutes noodles should be tender. Remove from water and cool for assembly.
- Shred cheese for the top.
- In a large casserole dish, first add a layer of noodles, followed by meat mix, spinach paste and more noodles. Repeat until ingredients are used or dish is three-quarters full.
- Sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and top with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
- Bake in a preheated oven on 375 degrees (f) for roughly 25 mins or until noodles brown along the edges.
- Cool for 10 minutes and serve.
A love of cooking can never be boiled down to a single meal and for me, Dad’s Lazy Lasagna was a catalyst along with Mom’s Spaghetti (shout-out to my boy Slim Shady) and a host of other family members who contributed to my cooking style and informal education.
If you haven’t yet considered a career in cooking I encourage trying this recipe as it may instill in you the same creative spark that Nan’s first lasagna struck in me when I was six.