Dinner for the Newts

I’ve been sharing some of my favorite pasta recipes lately, and last post I spoke of my walking in Relay for Life coming up.  As I was working with my Greek students, we spent some time brainstorming ways to inspire the fraternities and sororities to get involved with Relay.  One of the challenges which took place last fall was for each of the teams to register by a specific date.  For one of the first challenges, I cooked dinner for whichever group I drew out of a hat and was registered.  This ended up being the Newts, one of our fraternities on campus, dedicated to their five folds – academic, athletic, leadership, service, and social.  These five folds demand high expectations from the men who are a part of the group and I have been quite impressed with them as a whole.
For their meal, they requested lasagna and garlic bread.  While I happily would have been a little more fancy, with the way the semester kicked off, this seemed like a great start.  I began scouring cookbooks, searching for the perfect lasagna recipe for 14 hungry college men.  I finally landed on a recipe from one of my favorite go-to cookbooks: the Mt. Carmel Country Cookin’ Second Edition cookbook, from Easton, Minnesota.  Courtesy of Lynn Hamel, the Lazy Day Overnight Lasagna recipe made perfect sense.
Lazy Day Overnight Lasagna
1 lb mild Italian sausage or hamburger
32 oz spaghetti sauce
1 c water
15 oz ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp oregano
1 egg
8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles
16 oz sliced or shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, brown the meat and drain well.  Add spaghetti sauce and water; blend well.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, seasonings and egg; mix well.  Spread 1 cup meat sauce in bottom of a 9×13 inch pan.  Layer half the noodles, half ricotta cheese mixture and half of Mozzarella cheese; repeat layers.  Top wth remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Heat oven to 350.  Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes.

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