Best Liz-agna Ever

I first had this lasagna when the Activity Day girls of our ward had a daddy/daughter dinner. It was the best lasagna I had ever tasted in my whole entire life and I wasn’t the only one raving about it. (Don’t let the picture scare you. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product in the dish before digging in for dinner with family and the missionaries, so this is a reheated portion that I had later. And the flavors are even better the second time around!)
2 lbs. ground Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T = 1 t crushed (preferably fresh) basil
2 t anise seed – anise seed is the flavoring used for black licorice. I found it at Food Lion but not at our Wal-Mart. (Don’t worry, the lasagna won’t taste like black licorice!)
2 1-lb. cans stewed tomatoes
2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
9 oz. water (fill one of the 6-oz. tomato paste cans 1-and-a-half times)
olive oil, to taste
9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
3 eggs
4 C cottage cheese
3/4 C grated Italian blend or Parmesan cheese
3 T parsley flakes
1/2 t salt
1 t pepper
2 lbs. grated mozzarella cheese
fresh spinach (opt.)
1. Brown meat and drain grease. Add next 6 ingredients. Add a little olive oil to this tomato sauce for extra flavor. As you stir to combine, break up the large tomato pieces with a wooden spoon. Simmer uncovered 1-2 hours.
2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, add cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese (or Italian cheese blend), parsley flakes, salt, and pepper.
3. Preheat oven to 375.
4. Brush the lasagna noodles generously with olive oil (otherwise they don’t soften properly).
5. In a 9×13 glass casserole dish {actually I would use a larger one if you have it, like I did, because it will be full to the brim and could boil over} greased with olive oil, layer ingredients–beginning with half the cottage cheese filling, noodles, half the meat/tomato sauce, spinach, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat. Use the spatula that you probably used for spreading the ingredients to tuck the top edges in a bit (to help avoid boiling over). If made in advance this is easily frozen.
6. In case the lasagna still boils over (like mine, despite the tucking and using a larger dish), put a cookie sheet lined with foil under the dish in the stove. Bake at 365 for 30 minutes, 45 if cold. Let stand before serving. Serves 10-12.
The original recipe does the layering differently. It has you put the noodles down first, then, “half the cottage cheese filling, add layer of fresh spinach, add layer of mozzarella cheese, and half the meat sauce. Repeat.” I did follow the instructions of the original recipe (besides adding the extra mozzarella on top), but it gave me some noodles that didn’t cook all the way (despite following its instruction to generously grease the noodles with olive oil). I figure the layering I’ve provided should help with that. Who knows, maybe you won’t even need to add olive oil to the noodles. Let me know how it works for you!
Source: my friend Liz. C. (hence the name “Liz-agna”) made this for the afore-mentioned activity; she got the recipe from her mother

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