Next up on our must try easy camping recipes is lasagna. One of the most famous Italian dishes is lasagna. People all over the world have come to love this rich, hearty dish and frequently cook it for gatherings and special events. There is no single recipe for lasagna, however.
Over the years, people have changed the recipe to reflect their personal tastes and lifestyle requirements. Those who want to make a classic, delicious lasagna in a Dutch oven will appreciate this particular version. It allows you to layer the dish pretty deep, which makes room for lots of filling. But what makes this version stand out from the rest is the size. Rather than making a full pan of lasagna, which is usually quite large and can easily feed up to 45 people, depending on the size of the portions, this version feeds 10 to 12. Ultimately, it is faster and easier to prepare and cook.
Gather Your Ingredients
The key to delicious lasagna is quality ingredients. Everyone may not have access to fresh pasta in their camping kitchen setup, so when selecting dry pasta, choose a brand that is high quality for the best results. This is also true of the cheese and meat included in the dish. Lean ground beef or 80/20 is the best option because higher fat versions will make the dish greasy and ultimately less appealing.
When it comes to sauce, fresh tomatoes are great, but it is easier to substitute jars of spaghetti sauce from the store if you are planning on cooking outdoors or you want to save time and lower expenses. Tomato paste is required if you are going the fresh tomato route. One word of caution about jar or canned spaghetti sauces is that they tend to have high sodium content, which may not be ideal for people who are watching their sodium intake.
Tips for Making Dutch Oven Lasagna Healthier
If you are making efforts to eat healthier or have a health condition that requires you to modify your diet to embrace lower fat ingredients in dishes, then you can easily make substitutions to this recipe by using low-fat, quality ingredients. If you have other allergies and sensitivities, such as Celiac disease or you are lactose intolerant, you can also find ingredients such as gluten-free pasta and dairy-free cheese substitutes at most local grocery stores and health food stores across the country.
Assembly and Cooking
Before you get started, keep in mind a few things such as the size of your Dutch oven (they come in a wide variety of sizes, but 6 qt is average), cooking environment, amount of servings, and substitutions. Make changes to the recipe according to these factors, but this recipe will be for a 5.5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. You may divide or add to the recipe according to the size of the Dutch oven as well as adjust pasta cooking times depending on the type of noodles.
- If you want to make the lasagna sauce from scratch, you will need 10 – 12 whole tomatoes peeled, seeded, and diced. You can substitute 2 – 14 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes. For a more convenient option, use 2 jars of spaghetti sauce (26 oz.).
- 2 – 6 oz cans of tomato paste ONLY if you’re making the sauce. Omit if you use canned spaghetti sauce.
- 2 lbs. of lean ground beef or similar substitution such as turkey or plant-based meat
- 2 – 3 tsp of minced garlic (depending on your tastes)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 – 16 oz box of lasagna noodles, or about 12 – 15 sheets of fresh pasta (depending on size of noodles and Dutch oven)
- 6 cups of mozzarella cheese
- 2 15-oz containers of ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tsp of Italian seasoning
- 1/ 2 – 1 tsp of salt (depending on whether the sauce is homemade or store bought)
- 1/2 tsp of pepper
Begin preparing the ingredients. Combine the ground beef or substitution in a cast iron baking pan or the Dutch oven and either bake or cook until the mixture is browned. Once the mixture is cooked adequately, add the tomatoes or sauce, including tomato paste if you’re making the sauce. Add the spices to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat. Mix the ricotta cheese and the lightly beaten egg in separate bowl. While the ground beef cooks, begin boiling the water for the pasta. Keep in mind that fresh pasta only needs to boil for about 30 seconds, while dry pasta takes up to 10 minutes to reach al dente. Drain the pasta and remove the sauce from heat.
Line the Dutch oven with aluminum foil for easy cleaning and begin layering the ingredients. Place a layer of pasta length ways across the bottom of the Dutch oven and add about a 1/2 cup of sauce. Then, add the ricotta cheese mixture. Cover the layer with generous a sprinkling (approximately 1 cup) of mozzarella cheese (be sure to reserve 1 to 1 1/2 cups for the top of the lasagna). Repeat the layers and finish the top of the dish with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.
Bake covered in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. Uncover the dish and cook for an additional 20 – 25 minutes until the top layer is browned and the cheese is evenly melted. Allow cooling for several minutes before serving. This recipe serves approximately 10 – 12 people, but can be easily adjusted.
There are so many great Dutch oven recipes that you may not know which one to try next. Personally, I think you can’t go wrong with soups and stews. Two of my favorites are camping chili and Dutch oven gumbo. You also can’t go wrong with some rich and creamy Dutch oven cheesecake for dessert.
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