My aunt Nancy has a special recipe called Tragedy Lasagna. No, the food itself isn’t tragically bad, unless for some reason you’re an enemy of beef, noodles, and sauce (who are you and how did you get in here?) It’s a recipe she makes whenever something horrible happens to a friend or family member, the kind of thing that seems to have no appropriate response except maybe to pass along some sustenance, to make the very process of staying alive a little bit easier.
The strangely magical thing about food is that it really does heal us. How many times have you failed a test, had a grueling day at work, or fought with a partner and eased that emotional ache with a favorite food that made you carnally happy? It fixes us in a way that doesn’t even begin to address the source of our problems but somehow makes them less unwieldy or chases them away, even for just a few minutes.
Silver Spork’s Tragedy Lasagna, a version of my aunt’s recipe, is a tribute to that mysterious power of food to do so much more than it promises. It’s a quick and simple recipe that’s nonetheless warm and weighty and comforting in a way that transcends logic. Even when you can’t say the perfect thing to someone, you can feed them. It is an act that speaks volumes.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
32 ounces cottage cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried parsley
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
9 lasagna noodles
1/2 cup water
In a large skillet over medium heat brown the ground beef. Drain the grease. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, eggs, half of the grated Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, salt and ground black pepper.
To assemble, in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish evenly spread 3/4 cup of the sauce mixture. Cover with 3 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1 and 3/4 cup of the cheese mixture, and 1/4 cup sauce. Repeat layers twice. Top with 3 noodles, remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Add 1/2 cup water to the edges of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before facilitating the healing process by serving.
Post by Bailey James. Art By Molly Johanson.