Years ago, I discovered I enjoyed cooking. It was like cheap therapy for me. Chopping helped soothe my frustrations, measuring occupied my mind and creating helped to satisfy something within me.

Around the same time, a good friend began to teach me how to play the guitar on Wednesday nights and in exchange, I cooked dinner. It was my opportunity to create new things and have someone to try them. We began to invite others for the dinner portion of the evening. What was born was “Secret Wednesday Night Dinners.” Secret because no one ever knew if *they* would get invited or not. They all thought it was a great honor and I just had more people to try out recipes on. All in all, it was a wonderful season of life.

I tried out a number of meals, most of which I don’t continue to make now since they just don’t fit the Peruvian food style. Except for lasagna. When I made lasagna, my friend exclaimed it was the best he had eaten…even better than his mom’s! I was honored and lasagna somehow made it’s way into the rotation about once a month on Wednesday nights.

Here in Peru, I do not make it nearly as often. It is something that graces my table once every couple of months. Not long ago, another friend requested it for his birthday and although I couldn’t comply (something about a two hour bus ride with a hot pan of lasagna), I had it in my head and had the ingredients in my fridge.

I have always used a quick method and loved the results. But this particular day, I was dismayed to discover that the ricotta cheese had already gone bad. Since I was bound and determined to make the dish, I wondered if using a Béchamel sauce layer would suffice. I will tell you about both “versions.”


Yield: Serves 8


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 3 cups of spaghetti sauce (28 ounce jar)
  • 16 ounces of cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of Italian seasoning
  • 12 pieces of no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of freshly shredded parmesan cheese


  1. Brown the beef, (season with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano…however you like it!) drain the fat. Stir in spaghetti sauce. (Add a bit of tomato sauce if it seems to need more liquid.)
  2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together cottage cheese, egg and Italian seasoning.
  3. In a 13x9 pan, spread 3/4 cup of meat sauce (so the noodles don’t stick to the bottom!). Place 3 noodles over it. Spread 1/4 of the remaining meat sauce over the noodles, spread 1/4 of cottage cheese mixture over the meat sauce and sprinkle with a fourth of the mozzarella. Repeat layers and sprinkle with Parmesan to finish it off.
  4. Cover with foil (which has been sprayed with cooking spray where it will touch the cheese – so it doesn’t stick!) and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until hot & bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

As I mentioned, for this particular day, I substituted the Béchamel sauce instead of the cottage (or ricotta) cheese, egg, Italian seasoning layer. Truthfully, I may never go back to my old ways. I found this to be so much creamier and richer and wanted seconds and thirds. Delicious!

Béchamel Sauce

Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Source: From Epicurious


  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk, heated on low just until bubbles form at the edges
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in parmesan cheese, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.


Lasagna is being served up for Presto Pasta Nights, created by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast and this week hosted by Kevin at Closet Cooking.

Gretchen Noelle

My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country. Here on Provecho Peru you will find Peruvian recipes in English, American favorites prepared overseas, news about Peruvian Cuisine and interesting tidbits about life in Peru.

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22 Responses

  1. Ann says:

    Wow! That looks so damned fabulous… and so not happening in my unair-conditioned 6th floor kitchen. 🙁

  2. culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess says:

    That looks so good, what a fabulous lasagna recipe 🙂

  3. Ruth Daniels says:

    It does look delicious, but at 30F, not for this kitchen either. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  4. Erin says:

    This looks delicious!

  5. Cookie baker Lynn says:

    You can’t go wrong with a good lasagna. Yours looks wonderful!

  6. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food. You can dress it up with all sorts of veggies and fancy pasta, but at the end of the day, this is the version you crave.

  7. Paz says:

    Yum! I like the sound and look of this. I’ve never made lasagna before. I’ve put your recipe on my list.Paz

  8. Julie says:

    That’s something I haven’t made in awhile, looks delicious.

  9. dobetter says:

    Yum. My hubby loves lasanga, but for some reason I rarely make it. Maybe I’ll have to add it back into my rotation.

  10. Kevin says:

    That lasagna looks good! Lasagna is one of my favorite meals and this reminds me that I have not made it in a while. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights!

  11. PheMom says:

    Mmmm… I love lasagna! I would have bribed you for an invite to your secret dinners! I know I’m going to have to make lasagna again soon now!

  12. Amy says:

    Yummy; lasagna is one of my favorite meals. Not one for the 90F weather we had this past weekend, but when the weather turns cooler, it’s definitely on our rotation. The “secret” dinners sound like they were fun!

  13. RecipeGirl says:

    I’ve never made lasagna with bechamel sauce. It looks delish!

  14. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    The best chefs can go with the flow of ingredients! That is beautiful lasagna!

  15. Hillary says:

    Oh man, that DOES look like a good lasagna. I love the picture where the noodle peeks out the top corner. Mmmmm!

  16. camille says:

    I kind of hate ricotta, so I always make my lasagna with bechamel. Isn’t it good?I read your blog from Tastespotting all the time!

  17. Dana McCauley says:

    I find bread making particularly zen and theraputic. There’s something about the kneading that is so calming. I totally get what you mean about cooking being cheap therapy.

  18. Erinn says:

    I think I gained 10 pounds just looking at this.In Greek cooking we have Pastitsio – a version of lasagna that uses a bechamel sauce as well. It adds a creamy decadant quality, don’t you think.Yum, this looks fantastic!

  19. Helen says:

    Everything tastes better with bechamel…I tend to put a lot of freshly ground nutmeg to mine and use it for grilled cheese to.

  20. Deborah says:

    I have always wanted to try lasagna with a becamel sauce – and this one sounds fantastic!

  21. bobby says:

    I love lasagna, and yours looks amazing!

  1. April 30, 2013

    […] advantage of the opportunity to make dishes that can accomodate a large group and hungry tummies. Lasagna is always a winner, spaghetti is even easier. Pizza has made it’s presence known a time or […]

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