Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sausage and Three-Cheese Lasagna

This lasagna was sooooo delicious I had to abandon the dirty dishes in favor of blogging. Can you blame me?

Let me start from the beginning. On my way out the door this morning, I flashed a few pages of Food and Wine by my husband and asked which pasta dish he'd like for dinner. He choose this one. He likes any food with the word "lasagna" in it.

The only reason I even considered making this dish is that it lacks ricotta cheese (the kids and I do not like ricotta). Instead, this version relies on a combination of fresh mozzarella, fontina and Parmesan for its cheesiness. Add in some fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic and sausage, and I thought it sounded pretty good.

Hubby, however, didn't realize this wasn't your run-of-the-mill lasagna, and looked a bit downcast when I served him. He picked through it and mumbled something about the fact that he likes his lasagna big, square and greasy. Then he finished his piece and went for seconds.

To me, this was a great dish because it was packed with flavor and each ingredient shone. If you love spicy food, add crushed red pepper to the sauce or use a spicy sausage. The F&W instructions were kind of convoluted, so I rewrote them as I went and will share with you below.

Then, I've got to get to those dishes.

Sausage and Three-Cheese Lasagna
Serves 6

1/2 pound lasagna noodles (I used 9 DeCecco lasagna noodles)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (I used chicken sausage)
1 cup water
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 28-ounce can chef's cut tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
6 ounces Italian Fontina, sliced
6 basil leaves

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cool water, and transfer the noodles to a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside until needed.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the Italian sausage, cover and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned all over. Add the water, cover and simmer until the sausage is just cooked through, about 4-6 minutes. Remove the sausage and water and reserve in a bowl or container.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the larger pieces of tomatoes. Add the sausage and its poaching liquid and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the sausage to the bowl. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Coarsely break up or slice the sausage.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish.

Lay 3 lasagna noodles in the dish. Spoon a scant 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the lasagna noodles and sprinkle with a little grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Scatter almost half of the mozzarella and half of the fontina on the noodles. Scatter half of the sausage on top of the cheese. Repeat the process with the remaining lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, mozzarella, Fontina and sausage, sprinkling with a little more Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Place a third layer of noodles on top, pour the remaining sauce on, and top with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and any remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake the lasagna for 20 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble. Raise the oven temperature to 450° and bake for about 7 minutes longer, until the top is richly browned. Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes, then cut the basil with kitchen shears and scatter on top. Cut into squares and serve.

Make Ahead
The unbaked (or baked) lasagna can be refrigerated overnight.

No comments: