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