3-Cheese Spinach Lasagna for Grandma’s Birthday

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Today would have been my grandma’s 84th birthday. Yes, Friday the 13th – which is the day she was brought into this world.

We lost her 3 years ago, and I would say she crosses my mind in some way or another most days. Like when I was working on a puzzle last week with my son and remembered working on puzzles with Grandma. When we went bowling. When I hear piano music. Or when our family gets together and I miss her infectious laugh. And even when I open my spice cabinet.

this is Grandma on her big 80th birthday with my sweet Xander

See, my first cooking lessons were in Grandma’s kitchen. Five years old. A chair at the sink. A big pot of water. And access to all of Grandma’s spices (well, maybe not the expensive ones). She told me to make some “soup.” So that is what I did. A dash of this, a sprinkling of that. A pretend taste here and a big fragrant sniff there. How generous Grandma was! To share her spices with me in order to be creative and make up some concoction she knew would be inedible and would just be thrown down the sink. As an adult, I now know how expensive of a game this was, but it didn’t even seem to cross her mind. All she wanted was to make me happy, which is why she was the best grandma ever.

this is grandma with my younger brother and me

You know what else was the best that my Grandma did for our family? She would have us over for a nice Sunday dinner and dish up the best lasagna I’ve ever had. It is because of these memories and the taste of my Grandma’s lasagna in my memories that it is my favorite food. She would always be sure to add sliced olives to half of the lasagna, because she knew of my love for black olives.

These days, when I make lasagna, it’s not quite my grandma’s recipe, but even when I make my vegetarian version in the exact same pan she used to use, I think of her, and her memory lives on.

Happy Birthday Grandma. I miss you every day!

3-Cheese Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients

12 ounces lasagna noodles

frozen spinach, thawed and pressed dry

16 ounces low-fat cottage cheese

16 ounces ricotta cheese, part skim

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 Tablespoon dried basil

3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 24-ounce jar favorite tomato-based sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Boil noodles as directed on the box. Drain and lay noodles out of wax paper so they are able to cool slightly without sticking to each other.

While noodles are cooling, prepare the filling. Mix the cottage cheese, ricotta, spinach, Italian seasoning, and basil.

In a 9×13 baking pan (deep-dish if you have one), start with a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Next lay down  noodles along the bottom of the pan. Top with about a 1/4 of the cheese mixture, mozzarella, and sauce. Continue layering in that same order, ending with mozzarella cheese.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let sit for about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven.

We served this along with Grandma’s oregano bread, which is a loaf of French bread, a light spread of butter, and a sprinkling of Oregano. I also topped it with a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese.

We ate lasagna this week in memory of my grandma, and I couldn’t be prouder to be carrying on these memories of her. We plan to visit her grave site for her birthday, and maybe there will even be a drop or two of rain for her, one of her favorite things in life.

What recipes do you cook in remembrance of a loved one?

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