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Sausage Lasagna

March 24, 2012

This is my standby recipe for lasagna.   If you have never made a lasagna before, this is a great one to start with.    The best part is that it includes its own sauce.  There are so many lasagna recipes out there that list ‘tomato sauce’ as one of the ingredients and either you have to buy one or make your own, besides making the lasagna.  I don’t really think that’s fair.

I love the sausage addition and I think the brand of sausage you buy makes a huge difference.  Shoprite used to have this really good sausage but just recently, in the past year, they stopped selling it.  Boy, was I upset.  I have since tried many, many sausages trying to find one similar.  I tried the sausage at Decicco’s, A&P, Turco’s, Stew Leonards, Adam’s Fair Acre Farm, Trader Joe’s…..finally the one at Hannaford’s turned out to be the most like Shoprites.  So try a few sausages out before making the lasagna to find the one that tastes best to you.

Sausage Lasagna (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Sauce

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 pound of spicy Italian sausages, casings removed (my favorite:  Nature’s Place All Natural Hot Italian Pork Sausage from Hannaford’s)

1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausages, casings removed (my favorite:  Nature’s Place All Natural Sweet Italian Pork Sausage from Hannaford’s)

1 cup chopped onion

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1, 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes  (my favorite:  Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomato with Basil)

1, 14-1/2 ounce can petite diced tomatoes

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add sausages, onion, garlic, oregano and saute until sausage is cooked through, breaking up sausage into smaller pieces by pulling it apart with 2 forks, about 10-15 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with their juices, stirring everything together.  Bring sauce to boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.  (This can certainly be made ahead of time if you wish.)

Filling

1-1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

23 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese (15 ounce container plus 8 ounces:  you will have leftover ricotta which is not a bad thing if you like it on its own)

8 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese (my favorite is  Sargento Artisan Blends Whole Milk Mozzarella, already grated)

2 ounces of grated parmesan cheese (my favorite is Stella Parmesan Cheese)

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Put above ingredients into food processor, and using on/off buttons, process filling until just blended.

Assemblage

9 ounce package of Barilla No Boil Lasagne Noodles

16 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese (above favorite)

3 ounces of grated parmesan cheese (above favorite)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with canola spray.

Spread 1-1/4 cups of sauce on bottom of dish.  Arrange 5 noodles on top.  Drop 1-1/2 cups filling over noodles, in 3 dollops.  Spread evenly over noodles.  Sprinkle with 3/4  cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.  Repeat layer 2 more times.  The final layer, spread the remaining sauce and top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

Place dish on top of a rimmed baking sheet and put in oven.  Bake for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.  If you think it needs to bake more, COVER with aluminum foil before any additional baking.

Finished tomato sauce:

Spreading the filling:

The first layer complete:

Ready to go in the oven (make sure to put on a cookie sheet):

Ready to eat, after 15 minutes of resting:

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