Friday, March 14, 2014

Bride of Magazine Challenge: Tomato-Sausage Lasagna

When I was little, my mother made lasagna with a sauce that I didn't like:  it had "sticks" in it (that were also known as rosemary), green peppers, and a can of mushrooms. I can remember having it when company came for dinner and I would pick it apart, layer by layer, to remove the offensive items.  Lasagna wasn't one of my favourites.
When I was in about Grade 7, my mother found a new recipe for lasagna that did not contain any of the above items, but had a sauce made from scratch that was labour intensive but delicious.  We didn't have lasagna all that often because of the work involved in making the dish.
As an adult, I make lasagna a couple of times every winter - it's a quick, simple dinner with guaranteed leftovers that I can throw into the crockpot and leave J to cook for us in the afternoon.  I don't even need to cook the noodles.
When I saw this recipe, I wasn't sure I wanted to try it, but there were some intriguing elements:  1, There is no ricotta layer in this lasagna.  It's sauce, shredded cheese, and noodles; and 2, You don't cook the noodles, you soak them while you make the sauce.  Having company was reason enough to try it, and we weren't disappointed.
I present to you now from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food, Tomato-Sausage Lasagna:

12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb mild Italian sausage
2-28 oz cans whole peeled roma tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes) in puree
6 c shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese

1.  Fill a 9x13" pan two-thirds full of hot tap water.  Completely submerge the noodles in the water to soak as the sauce cooks.
2.  Heat oil in a large heavy pan, adding onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.  Cook 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add sausage, breaking up with a spoon and cooking until no longer pink.  Add tomatoes, breaking up with the spoon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and cook at a rapid simmer for 20 minutes, until thickened.  Stir occasionally.
3.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Drain noodles.
4.  In a 9x13" dish, spoon 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of the dish.  Layer 4 noodles over sauce, staggering to fit and overlapping slightly.  Cover with 2 cups of sauce, 2 cups mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Repeat with another layer, and then top with noodles.  Pour remaining sauce over the noodles, followed by remaining cheese.  Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350F for 1 hour.
5.  Remove foil, continue to bake until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before slicing to serve.

From Everyday Food, March 2006

I liked this method of preparing the noodles.  They were pliable, but not floppy.  In the final product, they came out perfectly cooked.  I also didn't have any trouble with things sticking together, which seemed to be something that I should have been concerned about when I read the recipe.
I would like to try the sauce again using hot sausage.  I think J and I would like it even more.  This smelled amazing.  The tomatoes I used were in juice, not puree as listed in the recipe because I couldn't find tomatoes in puree.  I just made sure that I simmered the sauce hard and stirred regularly to promote the escaping steam.  It might have taken a little longer for the sauce to thicken, but not much.
The sauce was hot enough that the shredded cheese started melting before I even put the lasagna in the oven.  I liked the addition of Parmesan for even more flavour.

1 comment: