My husband is a huge fan of lasagna and I’ve been working on perfecting a recipe that he would love…last night, I made my best lasagna ever. He literally couldn’t stop eating it! I’ve tried the traditional sauce with carrot, onion and celery. I’ve tried using béchamel sauce. I’ve added spinach, fresh and frozen. But this one came out just right, using a sausage and tomato sauce with some red wine and a cheese blend of ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan mixed with a bit of cream. I hope you’ll love this recipe as much as we do!
Time to make: 2 1/2 hours total
1 lb Italian sausage (hot, mild or a mix)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning (basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
3/4 cup full bodied red wine (such as cabernet sauvignon)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 package lasagna noodles (1 lb)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb mozzarella cheese (I use half low-moisture and half fresh), grated or chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
8 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
Make the sauce first (it will take about an hour). Put a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the sausage meat (removed from the casings) and cook, breaking into small bits with a spatula or spoon. When the meat is no longer pink (after about 5-6 minutes), add the onion and garlic and season lightly with salt & pepper. Cook another 6-8 minutes, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes. Crush the whole tomatoes in your hands into the pot (be careful of spurting juices) until they are in small pieces and add all of the juice from the can as well. Cook at a low simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce is cooking, make the cheese blend in a large bowl. First, set aside 1 cup of the grated or chopped mozzarella cheese to put on top of the lasagna. Mix the remaining mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and cream until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the sauce is almost done, put water on to boil in a large pot, adding salt to the water (about 2 Tbsp). When boiling, add the lasagna noodles, one at a time. Stir frequently to keep the noodles from sticking together, and cook for about 8 minutes (the noodles won’t be quite done…they should be very al dente). Drain the noodles and empty the water…put the noodles back in the pot with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and mix well (this will keep the noodles from sticking).
Finish the sauce by adding the red wine, soy sauce and the fish sauce, stir to blend and taste for seasoning, adding salt & pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
Heat the oven to 375 F. Assemble the lasagna in a 9×13 baking dish. Start by putting a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the bottom lightly. Put a single layer of noodles in the bottom, without overlapping (I used 3 noodles lengthwise and 2/3 of a noodle across the end). Top with about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, spreading evenly. Using your hands or a spoon, put 1/4 of the cheese mixture in dollops across the top. Repeat with layers of noodles, sauce and cheese for a total of 4 layers. Finish with one more layer of noodles, and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the reserved cup of mozzarella. Cover loosely with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, remove the foil and turn the heat up to 450 F. Cook another 15 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving.
And voila, my best lasagna on your table! Bon appétit!