Saturday, March 7, 2009

Summer Lasagna with Fresh Mozzarella, Sausage, and Basil

Hey! I made Lasagna for the first time last night! I found the recipe from the cookbook I bought for $.01 on Amazon last year The Ultimate Cookbook 900 new recipes, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. It was what Chicagoans call WARM here yesterday...a balmy 60 degrees (cough cough!! Where's my 80 degree weather???). So, I had a little of the warm-bug and wanted to make something fresh and delish.

First off, after re-typing this recipe, I realized I was supposed to only add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I added the whole can, and it turned out great. I've never been known for accurately following directions. Oh well. Adding to following directions, I dont own a 13 x inch pan. I own something smaller, so just stuff it in, is what i say.

It should be known that I have to ride a bus (sometimes very crowded) for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the air) to the supermarket with my enormous, environmentally-fabulous, shopping bags. And then, of course, back again. So the 16-18 tomatoes wasn't going to work out for me. Can you imagine seeing me cart around 4 pounds of tomatoes on the bus? No. So, I cheated, and it worked out nicely. I added 3 real tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes. Maybe that's why my tomato paste flop didn't ruin anything.

I also realized I was supposed to cook the sausage before cutting them into rounds. That would've been a lot easier than what I did, which was cut the sausage first. Again, me and reading directions. My 1st grade teacher was a psychic, pointing this out at such an early age.

Jason (the husband) didn't talk for the first 10 or so bites, when he realized i was staring at him for his consensus(since, if he doesn't like it, why bother making it again). "Oh, YES. I LOVE it!" So, it passed the ultimate approval. :)

You all know what lasagna looks like, so instead, I posted a photo of lovely, fresh, Basil. You can almost smell it!

Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions chopped
6 garlic cloves
4 pounds Roma or plum tomatos (16 to 18 tomatoes) roughly chopped (Instead, I used 3 tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes)
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (Instead, I used the entire can)

For the Casserole:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 lb of italian Pork, chicken, or turkey sausage
12 to 15 lasagna noodles
24 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat 350 degrees F.
2. To make the tomato sauce, heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, add onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and cook about 20 seconds.
3. Add tomatoes, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper. bring sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes. Stir in tomato paste.
4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add sausage. Cook until brown. Cut into rings after cooked.
5. Cook noodles according to box.
6. To build a casserole, follow this method. Preferably use a 13x9 inch pan. 1 cup of tomato sauce across pans bottom; 5 sheets pasta; 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce; half the sausage; half the basil leaves, half the mozzarella; 5 more sheets of pasta; 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce; remaining sausage; remaining basil; remaining cheese; remaining noodles; remaining sauce.
7. Cover pan with parchment paper, then with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 minutes, then uncover the pan and continue baking for 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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