|Everyone has a favorite lasagna recipe – the good news is, you can now throw yours out, as mine is clearly the best! Okay, that’s a little extreme – but it illustrates the point that everyone thinks they’ve cornered the market on this staple of the potluck dinner. I’ve had some very good lasagnas, and some that were quite nasty. Perhaps the weirdest one was lasagna made from javalina meat (a javalina is also known as a collared peccary, a tusked, bristly animal ubiquitous in Arizona and the southwest US). While I never actually ate the lasagna, I saw it, and I touched the plate as I handed it back to the host – so I got pretty close to it.Mine as presented here is a very simple, traditional variation – made richer by the liberal inclusion of ricotta cheese. If you’re one of those who believe dry-curd cottage cheese is the way to go, I’m very sorry to tell you, we can’t be friends any more. It has to be ricotta.No complicated prep notes this time around – I will say that I use the whisk on my KitchenAid when I mix up the cheese mixture. It won’t whip up as much as meringue, but fluffy cheese is happy cheese. Did I actually just say that?|
|1-16 oz box||Lasagna noodles|
|2 lbs||Italian sausage (mild or hot, bulk or link)|
|1-30 oz tub||Ricotta cheese|
|1-15 oz tub||Ricotta cheese|
|2 lb block||Mozzarella cheese|
|3 oz wedge||Parmesan cheese|
|1-32 oz jar||Marinara sauce|
|1 medium||White or yellow onion|
|1||Green bell pepper|
|1/3 cup||Fresh basil leaves|
|A/R||Cooking oil spray|
|A/R||Extra virgin olive oil|
|A/R||Italian (flat-leaf) parsley for garnish|
| In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions until noodles are still slightly firm. Drain, carefully separate noodles and cool on waxed paper.Chop onion and mince garlic; sauté in a skillet with olive oil. If using link sausage, remove casings and crumble into skillet along with onion and garlic. Brown until sausage is thoroughly cooked; drain excess fat.
Wash bell peppers, remove stems and seeds, cut a few thin rings and reserve for garnish. Chop the remaining peppers and add to meat mixture.Add marinara sauce; mix and set aside.Using a mixer, mix together contents of both tubs of ricotta cheese and eggs. Shred 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and add to mixture. Grate half the Parmesan cheese and add to mixture. Wash, dry and mince basil, stir into mixture.
Spray a 9”x13” Pyrex® pan with cooking oil spray; line the bottom with lasagna noodles. Ensure that the noodles overlap each other by at least ¼”, and comes up the sides and ends of the dish at least halfway.
Use a spatula to transfer the cheese mixture into the pan on top of the noodles. Spread evenly out to the edges of the pan, taking care not to shift the lasagna noodles underneath.
Place another layer of noodles over the cheese mixture; use your fingers to gently flatten the noodles evenly over the cheese.
Spoon meat mixture over noodles.
Shred and grate the remaining cheeses, sprinkle over the top of the pan, covering the meat mixture completely. Place the reserved bell pepper slices on top for garnish.
Place the pan on the center rack of a preheated 400-degree oven; bake for 35-40 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden around the edges. After baking, you can optionally move the pan under the broiler for a minute until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Place a few sprigs of Italian parsley on top for additional garnish.
You may also freeze uncooked lasagna and defrost overnight in refrigerator before baking.