Lasagna isn’t something I make often, simply because my family just isn’t that fond of noodles. I love it, though, so when we began our study of Italy, I knew it had to be on the menu.
After collecting all of the ingredients, I started planning out our day and realized something: this was a meal that my children could make almost entirely by themselves. They both love to help in the kitchen, but they are both at that stage where they are really proud to be able to tell Daddy that they made a dish entirely on their own. I determined that this meal would be theirs.
To prep it, I browned the meat for the lasagna and allowed it to cool a bit. I set out all of the ingredients for the pasta dish and then called my Big Helper. She put up her hair, tied on an apron, and set to work.
First, we mixed one egg with a 15 ounce carton of ricotta cheese. We opened a jar of tomato sauce and added a oregano, basil, and garlic, crushing the first two between our fingers in order to release the flavors. She added a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acid, then stirred it up and pronounced it ready.
After spreading the bottom of the baking dish with a bit of sauce, she grabbed a lasagna noodle and used a child’s table knife to spread it with the ricotta mixture. I measured and cut several noodles and then let her have at it. When she had a layer ready, she laid them in the pan and topped them with more sauce. Then she added some of the browned meat (we used sausage, but ground beef works just as well), a sprinkling of mozzarella, and then began again with the noodles. Repeat four or five times.
After topping the whole dish with another layer of cheese to top it off, we covered it with foil and put it in the oven at 350 for about an hour. At that point we removed the foil and gave it a few more minutes to brown the top.
I had fully prepared myself to be cleaning sauce off the ceiling by the time she was done, but not so. Aside from a bit of ricotta that had dripped from the noodles, the counter was in very good shape. Impressive!
When the lasagna was nearly finished baking, I called my Little Man to come make the salads. He pulled a chair to the other side of the counter, and as I chopped the veggies, he arranged everything on each person’s plate. (I think he ate as much as he distributed, but still.) He was quite proud of his efforts, and we all got our salads made to order that night.
Having stuck the makings of Italian herb bread in the bread machine that morning, we were soon ready to eat.
My Big Helper’s lasagna was excellent, and she was so excited that she passed up her usual sandwich the next day at lunchtime in order to have leftovers.
This meal was perfect for her to prepare because everything (barring the meat) was assembled cold – and with a bit of prep beforehand, that could be, too. I definitely need to get more meal plans ready that they can do – they were so excited to help,and they’re learning valuable kitchen skills at the same time!
What do your children help you with in the kitchen?