Mother-in-law-sagna cups

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes

I crave my mother-in-law, Bonnie’s Christmas Eve lasagna year-round, so I created a simpler, faster version using wonton wrappers instead of lasagna noodles. I also bake this recipe in a muffin tin so that everyone gets the perfect, bite-sized, portable portion!
Chef Ryan Scott

Dietary Tags | Serves 16

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated (plus all of its juices)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground beef  (90% lean)
  • 1 pound loose mild Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (25-ounce) jar marinara sauce (I like Trader Joe’s Arrabiata)
  • 2 cups full-fat ricotta cheese (one 15-ounce container)
  • 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese (one 8-ounce container)
  • 1⁄4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
  • 1⁄4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 (12-ounce) package square wonton wrappers
  • 1 1⁄2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)
  • Notes:
  • I use nonfat cottage cheese because the curds are firmer with less liquid, so it doesn’t require straining before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. I also love full-fat ricotta because of how thick and rich it is. Try not to change these two cheeses, if you can help it!
  • When cooking the grated onion, I always put the onion in a cold pan with the oil and heat them together; it seems to keep more moisture in and avoids browning when I’m just trying to cook the onion without getting any color on it.
  • The amount of meat and cheese filling is enough to make about 12 more cups; either use it all up with another package of wonton wrappers (to serve a big group, or freeze some for later), or freeze the fillings to make things quicker the next time you want to make lasagna cups. I find it comes in handy to have prepped fillings at the ready for spontaneous cravings.
  • If you’re making a batch of lasagna cups to freeze and reheat later, let the lasagna cups cool completely. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set the cooled lasagna cups on the pan, then freeze, uncovered, until solid. Once frozen, throw them in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, put the cups in a greased muffin tin, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Liberally spray 16 wells of two twelve-cup muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the olive oil, grated onion (with any juice released while grating), and garlic in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook until the onion softens and the garlic becomes fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and sausage and stir to break up the meat and mix with the onion and garlic. Add the dried onion, 2 teaspoons of the garlic salt, 1 teaspoon of the black pepper, the garlic powder, dried basil, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until almost all the moisture has evaporated from the mixture, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Drain any fat from the meat and return the meat to the pan. Add the entire jar of marinara and stir to coat. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, cottage cheese, fresh basil, fresh parsley, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and remaining 11⁄44 teaspoon black pepper.
  6. Arrange 3 wonton wrappers in each prepared muffin cup to create a cup with about an inch of overhang at the top. (I like to place the first wrapper diagonally in the cup with a point down in the bottom and the opposite corner sticking out of the cup on top, then overlap the second and third wrappers so there is no exposed pan visible between wrappers. Basically, as long as you have the inside of the cup covered and there is some overhang on top, you’re good to go. Don’t overthink it.)
  7. Pinch about 1 teaspoon of shredded mozzarella into the bottom of each wonton cup. Top the mozzarella with a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture and use a spoon to even it out and squash it down. Scoop an even tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on top of the meat and top that with another pinched teaspoon of mozzarella. The cups should be completely full. Use your fingers to slightly pinch the excess wonton wrappers to wrap the cups up a little on the edges; you should still have most of the mozzarella on top exposed for browning.
  8. Spray the tops of the filled lasagna cups lightly with cooking spray. Bake until the cheese is browned and the wonton wrappers are crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. These are best served hot, but are still yummy at warm room temperature.
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