Sometimes there’s nothing like a hot plate of lasagna on a cold winter evening. If you’re nodding in agreement, for the love of God, stop buying frozen lasagna! This dish is nearly foolproof, and if you don’t want to make your own noodles and sauce from scratch, you can easily substitute store-bought ingredients. I chose to make mini-lasagnas since I have a set of cocottes (tiny dutch ovens), but the same recipe will work in an 8”x8” baking dish.
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes (2 hours if making pasta and sauce from scratch)
Makes: 4 lasagna converts
- 1 pound fresh pasta dough (or 1 package dried no-boil lasagna noodles)
- 1 pound Iseniro’s Sweet Italian Sausage
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 2 cups tomato sauce (see recipe below, or use store-bought)
- 4 tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4 fried sage leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- If you’re making homemade lasagna noodles, follow your favorite pasta recipe (the recipe on a bag of semolina flour works just fine). Roll the dough out to the #5 setting (about halfway) on your pasta roller, which is thin enough that you can just see the color of your hand through the dough. Cut the dough to fit your baking dish. 1 lb. of dough should be more than enough – you may have extra dough left over.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat. Remove the sausage casings by squeezing the sausage from one end and add the sausage to the skillet. Break the sausage up into small pieces and cook until lightly browned and no pink is visible. Set aside.
- Assemble your lasagna by lightly greasing your baking dish with olive oil or butter. Place a layer of noodles in the bottom of the dish until it is completely covered. Spoon on about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, 1/3 of the sausage, and 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Repeat 2 more times. Place a final layer of noodles over the top and cover with grated parmesan.
- Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes if using fresh pasta, or as long as called for if using store-bought lasagna noodles. Uncover and continue baking 5 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving, and top with fried sage leaves.
Homemade Tomato Sauce:
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 4 sage leaves, finely chopped
- 3 cups Chianti
- 1 12oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add onions and cook until softened and transparent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, shallot and sage. Continue cooking another 10 minutes, keeping the heat low enough to barely brown the vegetables.
- Add the wine, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Increase heat to high and boil until reduced to a thick syrup, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice, breaking up tomatoes into small pieces with a spoon. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer 20 minutes, then add balsamic vinegar. Adjust with salt and pepper, to taste.
If you’ve never made fresh pasta before, it is quick, easy and very rewarding. I just got a pasta machine as a wedding present, which makes rolling out perfectly even pasta a total breeze. The tenderness and stronger flavor of fresh pasta makes a big difference in this dish, so if you’re feeling adventurous, give it a shot!
Full disclosure: I was asked by Iseniro’s PR to develop this recipe, and free sausage was involved.