Mama’s Lasagna

Lasagna just happens to be one of those dishes that if you are going to make one, you might as well make three.  By the time you make your sauce, boil your noodles and get all the other ingredients together, you might as well just set up an assembly line of a few more.  These freeze well and do a great job in serving a large, hungry crowd.

I really like how this lasagna incorporates the ricotta cheese and fresh basil, it is pretty, too.  Just saying. 

A few fun ways to change this up would be to use prepared pesto instead of the fresh basil in the ricotta.  Want to go vegetarian, use carrots and diced portobello mushrooms in the sauce (saute the mushrooms first for more flavor).


Once all the components have been put together let the assembly line begin,

What’s not to love here.  Fresh ingredients, lots of yummy fresh basil, spicy sausage and creamy cheese.  Serve any extra sauce on the side, a dry lasagna is a real bummer.

Hope you enjoy this delicious dish as much as I did.  Manja!

Lasagna with Spicy Sausage Tomato Sauce
Serves 8

Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15-ounce container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Assembly:

  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8-ounce package (I prefer the old fashioned regular lasagna noodles that you boil)
  • 3 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • Nonstick olive oil spray

Preparation

Sauce:
See recipe below.

Filling:
Using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.

Assembly:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce atop noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick olive oil spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Spicy Sausage Tomato Sauce
Serves 6-8

2 pounds of Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes with added puree, flavored with Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil or 8 large fresh basil leaves, slivered
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

In a large skillet add the sausage, onions and garlic, crumbling the sausage and breaking it apart. Once the sausage is fully cooked, drain excess fat and add to large stock pot. Add wine, crushed tomatoes, olive oil and seasonings. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes to blend flavors. Stirring occasionally. If the sauce seems too acidic add a little bit of white sugar to the sauce (about 1/2 tablespoon) and some garlic salt if it needs a little more seasoning. 

Serve any extra sauce on the side with your lasagna.

 

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