Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April's Lasagna

This recipe is called "April's Lasagna" but let me start by saying that it isn't exactly MY recipe.  A while back (and I mean a couple of years ago) my Mom called me and told me she made the best lasagna EVER and I had to try it.  Turns out it was The Barefoot Contessa's Lasagna with Turkey Sausage.  I can never get enough of Ina Garten so one Sunday I made the lasgana, and Mom was not lying.  It's an amazing dish!

However, it contained ALOT of cheese.  And don't get me wrong, I love cheese.  AND I'd never seen a lasagna recipe that called for goat cheese and this just seemed genius.  But it also seemed immoral!  I mean I do have a figure to watch and including 4 types of cheese in any dish can be so fattening, not to mention expensive.  So when I went to make it again, I modified it by cutting out most of the cheese and here we are!

I make this lasagna all the time and recently when I made it and posted the pictures on Instagram, alot of my followers asked me for the recipe.  And though Ina is the true author, I decided to go ahead and write my version because 1. I think it's better (sorry Ina) and 2. it is different from hers in a few ways.  There's the cheese thing, also the meat thing (I use HOT Italian sausage instead of sweet-way better!) and then there's the noodle thing. I'm not sure when the "no boil" lasgana noodles were invented but to me, they are the best foodie creation since sliced bread! So I included them in this recipe because no one should ever boil a lasagna noodle again.

So here's MY recipe! A while back I wrote a great Vegetable Lasagna recipe that you should check out, but if you're looking for the traditional, comforting lasagna with meat sauce, this is it!  Enjoy!

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage or Hot Italian Turkey Sausage
1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
1 6oz can Tomato Paste
6-8 Basil Leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Parsley Leaves, chopped, divided
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning (dried)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 15oz container ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 bag shredded mozzerella cheese
1 box "no boil" lasagna noodles (easily found in the pasta isle)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a pot or large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat, add in diced onion and sautee until soft, about 5 minutes.  Next add in the minced garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.  Then, one at a time, remove the casings from each sausage and add the meat to the pan.  Use the edge of your spatula to break up the sausage, and cook until no longer pink, about 7-8 minutes.

Once the meat is done, add in the can of crushed tomatoes, followed by the can of tomato paste. Season with the dried herbs and salt and pepper to taste, then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, and then stir in the chopped basil and half of the chopped parsley.  Remove the sauce from the heat.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg.  Then add in the ricotta cheese, the rest of the chopped parsley (I reserve just a little parsley to sprinkle on top), 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir everything to combine and set aside.

To build the lasagna, ladle a little bit of the sauce into your glass baking dish, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Then, cover the sauce with the no-boil lasagna noodles, breaking them as needed to fit.  Cover the noodles with 1/3 of the remaining meat sauce, 1/3 the ricotta and then sprinkle a little mozzarella and Parmesan on top (it's ok if the meat sauce is peeking through in the first 2 layers, you're reserving the largest amount of shredded cheese for the top). 

Repeat the layers, noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, and shredded cheese two more times, except the final layer of cheese, needs to completely cover the meat sauce (see picture). 

Garnish with the last little bit of parsley. Then, cover lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes more. 

Allow lasagna to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. This lasagna freezes well and is even better the next day so feel free to make in advance.

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