Party Food

Easy Lasagna Casserole Recipe

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An easy lasagna casserole recipe (or baked rotini as it’s also called) that’s as simple as it is delicious

Who likes simple meals that are easy to fix? Both hands up! An easy lasagna casserole is popular at our house and this lazy lasagna casserole with rotini noodles (or it can be made with shells), ground beef, cottage cheese, pasta sauce and a top of mozzarella cheese is heavenly comfort food.

It’s no secret I’m a busy mama. I work from home in the blog world and I’m also an administrative assistant in my outside job. Three boys, school, sports, and extra-curricular activities keep me hopping.

easy baked rotini

And don’t even get me started on keeping the house in order, endless piles of laundry, and the male species’ need to constantly eat!

That’s why I’m thankful my guys like pasta dishes. They’re versatile, easy to cook, and economical.

Variations on Lasagna Casserole

A baked rotini dish is always welcome on our table but I don’t want my guys to burn out on a favorite so I add a bit of variety by switching out sauce flavors, playing with spices, and swapping out cheeses.

  • You can even sneak in a few vegetables and change the type of meat or omit it entirely.
  • You can take this mixed up lasagna in a different direction by using an alfredo sauce instead of the more traditional tomato sauce, too. When I do that, I like to use chicken instead of beef.
  • And if you want a south-of-the-border flavor, add taco seasoning, substitute Colby cheese for the mozzarella, and top it with shredded lettuce and sour cream.

CHEESE
All of my boys love cheese and according to their taste buds I can never add too much. According to this cook, you can go overboard on the mozzarella because too much of a good thing makes the dish too gooey.

To add a bit of flavor diversity, sometimes I use ricotta and Parmesan cheeses and even crumbled feta. In some incarnations I add Romano, Gruyere, and cheddar.

SPICES
Spice-y additions include extra garlic, basil, fennel, oregano, Italian seasoning, dried onion, and parsley.

ADDITIONS
In the mom-wants-you-to-eat-more-veggies category, spinach, parsley, olives, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers have been met with different levels of satisfaction at our house. The trick seems to be to add only an amount of veggies that will not overpower the tomato-cheese flavor.

And a word on the pasta: We really like the rotini noodles but certainly shells, bowties, elbows and all manner of pasta shapes work in this recipe. You can even forgo the entire pasta additions and use spaghetti squash for a similar taste.

Easy Mixed Up Lasagna Recipe

MEAT
As far as meat substitutions, Italian sausage is very popular around here, but I have experimented with chicken, pepperoni, and leftover BBQ pork.  You can also toss in canned red beans for another take.

FYI, instead of using only mozzarella cheese, a mozzarella and cheddar mix goes even better with the BBQ pork.

Are you getting the idea that there’s more to this easy recipe than you might have initially thought?

 
MAKE-AHEAD AND FREEZE

Adding to the diversity of this easy lasagna casserole, you can make a double batch and freeze half for future meals. Make sure it is wrapped very tight with aluminum foil and/or a freezer bag.

Just remember it’s best to pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge. You can do that the morning you want to use it for dinner, but it’s even better if it thaws for a couple of days. That’s because the center of the lasagna often remains frozen and then it is a little mushy.

If you do thaw and eat it the same day, add extra baking time and check to be sure you’re not burning the edges, says the voice of experience who rarely remembers to thaw it for two days. 😊

FINALLY…

I usually add a fresh, green salad or cut-up veggie sticks and warm, crusty bread to fill out the meal for my boys’ always hungry tummies.

I’ve thought of putting the kids’ drinks in wine glasses for kicks, but decided I’d probably end up with a broken glass or two.

I’m happy to report juice in a plastic glass pairs beautifully with this meal.

And although we sometimes eat this meal by candlelight (which always delights the little ones), at our house this meal means nix the tablecloth and eat on the easily-wiped down wood table.

Because what busy mom needs another thing to wash?!

lasagna casserole

Easy Lasagna Casserole Recipe

Ingredients
1 pound of hamburger
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup cottage cheese
24-ounce jar of pasta sauce
2 cups rotini pasta
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt, pepper to taste

Method
1.     Fry hamburger with diced onion; add salt and pepper to taste.
2.     Boil rotini al dente, according to package directions.
3.     Add cottage cheese to hamburger/onion mix.
4.     Pour pasta sauce over mix.
5.     Stir in cooked pasta.
6.     Scoop mixture into greased 10 x 15 casserole dish.
7.     Top with mozzarella cheese.
8.     Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

 

Layne Henderson

Layne is a boy mom in love. Surrounded by three adventurous little men, she's in pursuit of an empty laundry basket, the perfect cup of coffee, and sleep. She blogs, parents, and manages social media while wearing her tiara.