Lasagna cooked outside is the only way I usually cook it. It is easy to put together and in fact, you can make it the day before and refrigerate it for cooking over a fire. I like to put the pan on a good bed of coals and just let it cook slowly all day. Better keep an eye out though, an outside fire can burn it pretty fast without you even knowing it is that hot. It is a good dish to use a cheap type of meat in, or no meat, if you wish. Sometimes I find a package of bones with a tiny bit of meat left on them at the meat counter that is very cheap. I want the flavor of the meat and don’t necessarily need the meat itself.
Brown ground meat in your skillet, or if using meat bones, put them in your skillet or Dutch oven and cover with water. Let it simmer, covered, for an hour or so till tender. Then split the bones apart and scrape and cut the meat off them.
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 4 ounce can tomato paste
1 clove crushed garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
2 beef bouillon cubes
Pour the sauce ingredients into the skillet that you simmered the meat in, leaving the water that it was boiled in and heat. Then add the meat and simmer for an hour or more. The longer it simmers the better it gets. If you are using ground meat, drain the grease off first. If you want to get more grease off, rinse the meat with water and drain or pat dry with a paper towel. I only do that if the ground meat is really greasy.
While the sauce is simmering, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:
4 cups cottage or ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
½ teaspoon salt
Mix all together and set aside.
1 -2 zucchini sliced, or another vegetable or lasagna noodles
3-6 cups of grated cheese, any type you choose ( I used cheddar)
Put the sauce in the bottom of the skillet, then layer zucchini slices over it. Cover that layer with sauce, add a layer of the soft cheese mixture, then shredded cheese. Add another layer of zucchini, more sauce, a layer of soft cheese and shredded cheese I only do two layers because of the size of my pan, but three layers would be good. You may have to increase the amounts of the other ingredients depending on your pan size. It really doesn’t matter what order you put your layers in. You will want to end up with sauce on top and shredded cheese on top of that for the final layer.
If you are baking the lasagna in your oven, then cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes (serves 8). If you are cooking it on an open fire like we did, make sure you put it in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven or a roasting pan.
My Dutch oven is not large enough for lasagna, so I made it in the skillet and covered it with another large cast iron skillet. You can use a large lid or aluminum foil. Place the skillet directly on the coals and let it cook undisturbed. Remember when cooking over an open fire you have to keep an eye on it or the bottom of the lasagna can become charred. Mine did, but this is the way my husband likes it. If you start cooking this way, your food takes on a whole new dimension and everyone will love it and if you have children, they will want to help.
This recipe can be changed in any way you want. In fact, use your own recipe for lasagna and use noodles. If you have vegetables from your garden this is a good way to use them and make a healthy tasty meal that everyone will enjoy. Who doesn’t love lasagna? I know we do. A frugal meal and if cooking it outside, it doesn’t heat up your kitchen in the hot weather.
Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole