As easy as lasagna

Posted on June 12, 2011

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Growing up one of my favorite foods was lasagna, and seeing as for the better part of my childhood I hated tomato sauce, that’s really saying something.  I am not sure if I loved it just because my mom could make one mean lasagna, or because it was something she so rarely made, that it seemed more special.  Either way it was always an occasion when she’d make a lasagna, she’d even make one for my grandparents who’d make that thing last as long as possible.  All of this seemingly pomp and circumstance surrounding my moms lasagna  lead me to believe as I grew up, that making it was some arduous task, and the first several times I made it, it was.   It also came out horrible.  I was a failure at lasagna, or so I thought.  It turns out I was just over complicating something that should be pretty simple.  Sure it is something that still takes a couple of hours from prep to putting it on the table, but even most of that is passive cooking.   So, here, without further babblings from me, is my take on lasagna.

I start with chopping some garlic…

Ok, a lot of garlic.

Then some basil…it’s so pretty.

Pour some olive oil into a pan.

Add the garlic and the basil.

Next you need to add tomatoes.   You can do fresh if you like, it’s a free country, do what you want…or not, you know, freedom and all. I used canned because it is November**, and any tomatoes in the stores now are not nearly as flavorful.  Plus it’s quicker, and because I am addicted to using these:

Fire roasted canned tomatoes have made me a changed woman, y’all. Yes…I really am this lame in real life.

I also use a big can of regular tomatoes as well.

They both get dumped into the pan with the garlic and basil.

It just needs a few minutes, or longer, if you have the time and inclination, to simmer.

Gosh…that’s really pretty.  Isn’t it pretty?

While it’s simmering I start getting the sausage ready.

As well as the ricotta, for which I like to add in some Parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and of course and egg.

I stir the now browned, and drained sausage into the sauce.

Now it’s time to put this baby together. First it is layer of sauce.

Noodles

Ricotta

Mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Mmmmm…cheesy…

Repeat the layers one more time, or until your pan is full to the brim, and if you want, you can make it all purty, and tear up some basil leaves to put on top…or not, it’s your lasagna.  Well not this one.  This one is mine.  I am talking about the one you’re going to make.  Not that it won’t be pretty without basil on top. I wonder how many times I can say pretty in this post?  I’ll shut up now.

Bake until it is bubbling and golden brown on top.

Now for the best part….you get to eat it!

Fabs Lasagna

4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped, divided use

10-12 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped

2 Tbs olive oil

2-14.5 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes.

1-28oz can crushed tomatoes

8-16 oz  Italian sausage, removed from casings (if in links), crumbled, browned and drained.

1 lb ricotta cheese

1 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan (or Romano) divided use

1 1/2-2 c grated Mozzarella divided use

2 tsp parsley

1 egg

18 lasagna noodles

Salt, and pepper to taste.

Pre heat  oven to 375F

In a large pan, add 2 Tbs of olive oil, and place over medium low, to low heat.  Add in chopped garlic, leaving about 2 tsp behind, and basil to pan. Stirring occasionally let the garlic, and basil get warm, and infuse the oil.  Add in tomatoes, making sure to stir well and evenly distribute the garlic and basil,  turn heat up to medium high, and let the sauce start to bubble.  Give a stir, add salt, and pepper to season if needed, lower heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, or longer if desired.

Meanwhile, remove sausage from casings if they are in links, crumble, and brown.  Drain grease from sausage, and add to the simmering tomato sauce.   Put ricotta in a medium bowl, and add the remaining chopped garlic, the parsley, egg, about 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste, cover the bowl, and put it back in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large roasting pan, or baking pan, lay your noodles flat, and slowly pour in boiling water until the noodles are covered.  Add a little olive oil to the water to keep the noodles from sticking.  Conversely if you have a large roasting pan that you can put straight on a burner fill it with water and bring to a boil, and add noodles.  I soften my noodles until they will bend without snapping, but still retain a bit of stiffness.  Some of the liquid from the tomato sauce is going to soak into them, and they’ll finish cooking/softening up in the oven.

Spoon the tomato meat sauce into a 9×13 glass baking dish until the bottom of the pan is well covered.  Put 6 noodles in the pan over lapping them so they fit.  Spread on half the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle on about 2/3 a cup of the Mozzarella, and 1/3 of the remaining Parmesan.  Repeat the layers of sauce, noodle, ricotta, and cheese.  Put the last 6 noodles on top, top with the remaining sauce, Mozzarella, and Parmesan.  If desired you can tear up some fresh basil and sprinkle it on top.   Cover with foil (tent it a bit so the foil won’t touch the cheese) and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling up at the sides.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

**Originally posted on 11/06/2010 on seeiteatit.wordpress.com

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Posted in: Eats!, Main