Grandma’s Lasagna – Recipe

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Dinner, featured-slider-post, Food Journal

Grandma’s Lasagna – Recipe

Grandma’s Lasagna Recipe – The lasagna story (recipe follows) - When I was a little girl, one of my very favorite things to do was to go to my Grandma’s house. She spoiled us so much-just like a Grandma should and then some! I remember when I would go with my brother and sister, my Grandma would say “I’m making pie, what kind does everyone want?”. And I’m not talking about something out of the freezer, I’m talking about delicious, made from scratch, pie. We would each put in our individual order. My brother, apple, me, cherry, and my sister “fluffy cake”(not pie at all). That’s spoiled! We of course had all of the family gatherings there too. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas etc… Well, whenever we would go to Grandma’s for a big family dinner (that wasn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas) we would always have her amazing lasagna. I remember when we’d get to her house she would always be in the middle of cooking it. Tomato sauce simmering, noodles boiling, the house would smell like heaven. I would take my position sitting on the kitchen counter to hang out with my Grandma and she would let me stir the pots and watch her cook. When it was time, I even got to help her layer the lasagna including sprinkling the cheese. This was is one of the few times as a child that I was encouraged to put my hands in food and get them dirty! I love cooking with my Grandma and  I really hope that you feel the love that’s in this dish as you’re cooking it.  It brings back so many memories for me that I’m writing this and fighting back tears at the same time. This dish is truly a part of me. I do have to tell you one thing about Grandma’s recipes though, any of Grandma’s recipes, if you are not trained by Grandma, they won’t taste exactly the same as Grandma’s. That’s because she says things while she’s cooking like “I know the recipe says this, but this is how I do it”. In these cases, I have done my best to adjust the recipe to “how she does it”. However, I’m sorry to say that some things you can only learn in Grandma’s kitchen!

This recipe has been passed down through 5 generations of my family. It is a twist on classic lasagna because my family can’t help adding their own flare! You can call this Italian/American Fusion, but we’ll just keep calling it Grandma’s Lasagna! Enjoy!


2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds ground beef (I use 93/7, Grandma does not)

3/4 cup onion minced

1 (22 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 (12 ounce) cans tomato paste

1 cup water

2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oregano

9 lasagna noodles (I use and recommend whole wheat)

It is at this point that I have realized that there are no measurements for any of the cheeses, so these are my best guesses.

1 1/2 pounds mozzarella (shredded)

3/4 pound cheddar (shredded)

6 ounce cottage cheese

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Saute the beef and the onion in the olive oil with 1 teaspoon of the salt until the meat is brown.

2. If you did not use a lean meat, drain the grease, if you used the 93/7 this is not necessary.

3. Add the tomatoes, water, other teaspoon of salt, sugar, garlic powder, pepper and oregano. Allow to simmer.

4. Start your noodle water – use a large pot (mine is 8 quarts) and a lot of salt (I use 7 quarts of water to 1/4 cup iodized salt (read my salt article to learn how to properly use salt)).

5. When your water is at a rolling boil, add the noodles. Reduce the heat slightly and stir the noodles for the first 30 seconds (this will help them not stick together).

6. Boil the noodles for 8 minutes. Drain them in a colander and dunk in an ice bath or run cold water over them until cool. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

7. In a large baking pan (mine is 11 x13, but I do a 12 noodle version-this recipe is a 9 x 11 pan, see note) begin layering your lasagna – a thin layer of sauce goes down first – there is a how to video at the end of this recipe that will show you how I layer mine.

8. Here’s the order from the bottom – sauce, then noodles,sauce, *cottage cheese,  mozzarella, cheddar. Now start over at the noodles, then sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella, cheddar and repeat starting with the noodles until you have three layers, finish with parmesan on the top (I don’t use freshly grated here, it wouldn’t taste like Grandma’s).

*For the cottage cheese drop small spoons (about 1/4 teaspoon) here and there but do not cover the sauce- you just want to get a bite of it sometimes.

*For the cheese, just try to use equal amounts in each layer, you will have more mozzarella in the layers then cheddar.

9. Bake at 350° F for about an hour, up to an hour and a half – just watch for the top to turn those beautiful shades of gold and brown.
*Just as a side note, I make a larger version of this. I use 12 noodles and double the sauce and add some extra cheese. I always end up with a little extra sauce, but the kids like to eat it while the lasagna cooks with buttered bread. Also, Grandma puts sauce as her top layer, I like cheese on top-it’s up to you, both ways are good!

Check out this video on how to layer Grandma’s Lasagna!

You can find some of my other “how to” videos in my other recipes and on YouTube!

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