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This is great to take to potlucks, you can prepare the complete casserole and refrigerate until ready to bake, adjust all seasonings to suit taste. To save time you can cook the sauce up to 48 hours in advance, in fact I advise to do so this will allow the flavors will blend together. If you prefer creamier layers increase the cottage cheese to 4 cups. Prep time does not include cooking the tomato sauce.
- 1⁄2 lb ground beef
- 1⁄2 lb pork sausage (or use 1 pound ground beef)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 -2 tablespoon fresh minced garlic (or to taste)
- 2 -3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional or to taste)
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 -2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper (to taste)
- 3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
- 3 cups creamy cottage cheese
- 1⁄3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided (or use as much as desired, or use cheddar cheese)
- 1⁄2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- For the sauce; cook the ground beef or sausage meat with onion and garlic, chili powder, basil, oregano and cayenne; cook until browned; drain fat.
- Add in tomato paste and stir over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.
- Add in crushed tomatoes, bring to simmer and cook uncovered over medium-low heat stirring occasionally for 1-1/2 to 2 hours (the longer this sauce cooks the thicker and richer it will be, if you find that the sauce is too thick add in some water and continue cooking).
- Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
- Meanwhile cook the macaroni pasta until just al dente (do not overcook the pasta) drain then place into a bowl.
- Add in 3 cups cottage cheese, 1 cup grated mozzeralla cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; mix to combine with a wooden spoon.
- Spread about 1-1/2 cups cup meat sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Top meat sauce (just dollup the meat sauce then spread with a spoon, you do not have to cover completely with the meat sauce) then with 1/3 of the cottage cheese/macaroni mixture, then sprinkle about 1 cup shredded mozzeralla or cheddar cheese.
- Repeat the layers 2 more times (make certain to save some meat sauce for the top of the casserole).
- Top with remaining meat sauce.
- In a small bowl combine the topping ingredients together until blended, then sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
- At this point you can cover the casserole and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Made for the cookathon for John. This was wonderful, the sauce is so full of flavor and the casserole was easy to put together and tastes alot like lasagna. My DH and I loved it and it makes alot so there are great leftovers also. Thanks so much for posting.