Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Confession...I've never made an actual homemade lasagna with noodles, sausage, etc. I have made Jack's stunning veggie lasagna, which is delicious, but I've not made the traditional version. Italian sausage was on sale the other day in the meat department, so I ordered up a pound and have been holding on to it in the hopes of making my own lasagna. The long weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. Now, I have my mother's recipe, which, again, I haven't tried...that's next, but I didn't have it on me when I was shopping for ingredients, so I bought ingredients based on a recipe I found online at All Recipes. I modified the recipe a bit to make it mine. I'm thrilled with the result of this lasagna! I was concerned it would be overly runny, but it wasn't. I was concerned it would be too heavy, but it wasn't. I was concerned it would be too complicated, but it wasn't! It did take some time - but slow-cooked sauces do require time to make them great. All in all, I'm very, very happy with this recipe. Andy was too - he ate and ate!

My friend Tori shared a recipe for lasagna rolls that I may have to try next time - a little twist on this classic!

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles (regular - not pre-cooked)
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced*
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*I sliced my fresh mozzarella and then pressed it down on both sides with a clean paper towel to remove some of the excess moisture. I highly recommend this as that extra moisture will contribute to a runny lasagna.*

1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. (This sauce makes A LOT!!! I had 1 quart of sauce left over after assembling my lasagna...perfect for spaghetti or the aforementioned lasagna rolls!)

2. When you have 30 minutes left on the sauce, line a 9X13" baking dish with the 12 lasagna noodles. Pour hot water over the noodles and let them sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the noodles and dry them with a clean dish towel. Set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To assemble, spread 1.5 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon another 1.5 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. (All told, you should use only about 4.5 cups of sauce - there will be leftovers...don't use it all or your lasagna will be runny!)

5. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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