Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Italian Sausage Lasagna
First of all, I must apologize for this horrendous picture! I didn't have much to work with in terms of lighting and there really wasn't much "color" to the lasagna. I was almost too embarrassed to post the recipe, as I was afraid the picture might deter anyone from trying it! Don't let the picture fool you--while the lasagna was rather "labor intensive", it had such a rich and hearty flavor and we're really looking forward to the leftovers tonight! Here's the thing...I don't believe I ever made homemade lasagna prior to meeting my husband and since we've been together, the ONLY lasagna he will eat is Stouffer's! He absolutely despises the taste of ricotta cheese, which is traditionally used in more authentic recipes. Yes, I realize that I could have substituted cottage cheese a long time ago, but you'd have to know my husband to understand that once he gets something in his head, it is VERY difficult to change his mind! He made up his mind that he didn't like homemade lasagna, so I stuck with Stouffer's--after all, it's relatively inexpensive (usually on sale for about $10 for a lasagna that would feed 9-12 people, depending on how big your family's appetite is!) and all you have to do is throw it in the oven...SO simple! Anyway, I decided to press my luck with this recipe and sway him more by focusing on the fact that it had Italian sausage, which he loves! We both agreed that the Italian sausage was a nice substitute for the beef, but I would even consider adding perhaps a 1/2 pound of ground beef next time (in addition to the sausage). I had a heck of a time with this recipe and had to continuously improvise as I was cooking. The original recipe called for 1 lb of Italian sausage, but I actually bought the Italian sausage in the casings (about 1 1/4 lbs) and just removed the casings prior to cooking--I'm all for buying it in the least expensive form and that's what happened to be on sale the day I did my shopping! I found that I ran out of sauce at the end, which is why I added an extra can of tomato sauce (as reflected below). I also tweaked the spices a bit and TRIPLED the amount of mozzarella cheese. I found it a bit crazy that the original recipe only called for 2 cups (8 oz) of mozzarella cheese. I mean, seriously!?!?!? Even when we buy the Stouffer's lasagna, I add 2 cups of cheese to the top...and that "supposedly" already has what they consider a sufficient amount of cheese! I couldn't even imagine eating lasagna that wasn't oozing with cheese! Anyway, if your family consists of "non-picky eaters", I would HIGHLY suggest adding spinach and mushrooms and perhaps even sauteed zucchini--that's what I would have done, had I made this lasagna for myself :) My daughter (who is almost 3) ate the lasagna, but didn't seem overly impressed, however, my son (who is almost 6), kept going on and on about it. Bless his heart...he always goes out of his way to compliment me and tell me that I "make the best recipes"...such a sweet and gracious child! All in all, I would make this again, but it's certainly not something I would make on a regular basis, as it was rather time-consuming and costly.
Before I get to my recipe, I wanted to thank my dear friend, Devonay, for the very kind words she expressed about myself and my blog. Devonay and I used to work together...she, too, is a nurse, and is one-of-a-kind! Not only is she so down-to earth and warm-hearted, but she has a witty sense of humor that I greatly appreciate! I would like to encourage you all to check out her blog, as well: lumpkinandme.blogspot.com . Her blog has a little bit of everything, but she just posted a potato soup recipe that sounds delicious!!!
Now for my recipe...
Italian Sausage Lasagna
1 - 1 1/2 lbs Italian Sausage
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on how much garlic you like!)
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
(2) 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
(2) 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
(1) 12 ounce package lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta or small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (24 ounces)
In a large skillet, cook sausage, onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain if necessary.
Stir in 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the basil, sugar, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered about 1 hour--sauce will thicken.
When sauce has been simmering approximately 45 minutes, cook noodles as directed on package and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain noodles.
In medium bowl, beat the egg and mix ricotta (or cottage) cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, remaining 1tablespoon parsley and the oregano.
Spread approximately 1 cup of the sauce mixture in ungreased 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Top with 4 noodles. (I actually added an additional noodle vertically, across the end of the dish...there was about a 2 inch gap!) Spread half of the cheese mixture over noodles and then top with about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 4 noodles (again, I added an additional noodle!), the remaining cheese mixture, approximately 1 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture and 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese. Add one last layer of noodles and top with remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake about 15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Adapted from "Italian Sausage Lasagna" on Betty Crocker.com