Spicy Lasagna – Fall comfort food for a crowd at its best!
I can’t remember exactly what spurred me on to make lasagna on this beautiful fall day. I think it had something to do with a list of upcoming blog ideas and cooler weather. But I did it anyway. I weighed this on the scale and it totaled 16 pounds including the casserole dish (which is large). Krista gave me this for Mother’s Day. Isn’t that sweet?
Now I need to take some to Amy and her family and put some in the freezer for comfort food this winter. I can smell it baking and it smells wonderful. The fennel and Italian herbs make the whole house smell good. I have the doors open. I may even have a neighbor drop by to check it out.
I made the sauce the day before in the traditional spaghetti sauce pot. It is always better if it can cool and be reheated. Overnight is best.
I had to have about 3 uninterrupted hours to make it up and let it bake. That is what I did with my Sunday afternoon. I also washed up the dishes and cleaned every surface that was spotted with sauce. Counter tops, stove and floor. Where are my children when I need them? They always say I use every pot and pan in the kitchen to prepare dinner. Maybe they were right?
Lasagna is a tradition for Christmas Eve dinner for my family, but it feeds a crowd anytime. It can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated. Great to portion it out and put it away for a cold and busy winter day.
This is a tried and true recipe that everyone loves. Hope you do too.
- Salt for the water
- 1 1/2 (16-ounce) boxes lasagna noodles
- Olive oil
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or remove the casing if in links
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (12-ounce) package mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
- 2 cups ricotta
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 eggs
- 12 fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons, divided
- 1 recipe Tumbleweed Contessa’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce (recipe follows)
- 1 pound grated mozzarella
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook the lasagna noodles until they are soft and pliable but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and immerse in an ice bath, remove and lay flat on a sheet tray to cool. I usually put a little olive oil on the sheet pan to keep it from sticking.
Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until brown and crumbly. Sprinkle in a pinch of red chile flakes. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Remove the fat from the pan and add olive oil along with 2 cloves of smashed garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to medium-high heat. When the garlic becomes golden and very aromatic, remove it from the heat and discard. Add the mushrooms and season with salt. Cook the mushrooms until they are soft, wilted and dark brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add about 6 basil leaves chopped or torn after turning off the heat. Remove from pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 the Parmesan, the eggs, and the remaining fresh basil. Add salt and mix to combine.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch or deep-dish baking dish, add a couple ladles of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the lasagna noodles to completely cover the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta. (I had to use my fingers to spread it evenly.) Place a layer of pasta going in the other direction as the first layer (this makes it easier to serve). Spread a light layer of sauce on the pasta and sprinkle 1/3 of the sausage over the sauce, repeat this process with 1/3 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and some of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over the veggies. Repeat these layers until all the ingredients have been used up or the pan is full. The final layer should be a layer of pasta on top covered with sauce and sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmigiano. Cover tightly with foil.
Place the lasagna on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Note: It is best to make and bake the lasagna the day before. Heat it up again before slicing.
This sauce recipe is the same recipe I use for spaghetti, except I add sausage or beef (or chicken). A meatless meal was not acceptable in my house for my husband.
Spicy Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 28 ounce can Cento Tomatoes (puree)
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes +1 can of water
- 1 can tomato paste + 1 can of water
- 2 packages McCormick Thick and Spicy dry spaghetti sauce mix
- ½ teaspoon dried red chile flakes
- 4 tablespoons Italian dried seasoning herb mix (Tones)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 1 teaspoon garlic grains or 1 fresh clove of garlic finely minced
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
An additional can of water may be added, but this must be a thick sauce.
In a heavy-bottomed iron Dutch oven warm the olive oil and add the remaining ingredients. Stir and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to be sure the dried herbs don’t stick to the bottom. Remove the lid and let cool. Store in the refrigerator at least overnight before using. It is ok to use it immediately, but the flavors develop and it is best left at least overnight in the refrigerator.
I’ve just opened the 2012 Cookie Exchange. Take a look and add your recipe into the mix:
This will be the perfect recipe for the Shine Supper Club. I can’t wait to share and see what everyone else is making. Since it is sooooo big, I am also going to take it to: