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Sausage, Tomato & Basil Lasagna

May 15, 2013

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Every once in a while, my company gives us a random day off in the middle of the week. Just yesterday, they gifted us the day off in celebration of the company’s 45th anniversary, which we celebrated the night before with a lavish party with an open bar and dance floor (complete with glowsticks). May 14th shall now be known as national Hill Holliday hangover day, where the 600+ people in my office spent the day recovering on couches, sipping Gatorade, eating bacon, egg and cheeses and wondering why they drank so much champagne at the party the night before.

I could only let myself waste a small portion of the day fighting my champagne-induced headache (ok, there might have been a Fireball shot in there at some point). I had invited a guest over to dinner, and I wanted it all to be delicious. Fortunately, with my calendar empty I had plenty of time to prepare a meal that I hoped would impress.

lasagna

I love cooking for people and entertaining at my house, but I hate that it often forces me to be in the kitchen while others enjoy wine on my roof deck without me. Since it was just going to be me and my gentleman caller, I didn’t want to have to be slaving away in the kitchen while he watched. The beauty of this lasagna is that I could make it all earlier in the day, and all I had to do is stick it in the oven before he arrived. Then I got to play the “Oh, this little thing? Easy as pie!” card when he arrived and I pulled out a beautiful, colorful lasagna.

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To be fair, this really isn’t a very difficult recipe. And weirdly the repetitive nature of layering the lasagna was sort of therapeutic to my hangover. Hearing how much he liked the dinner and watching him take seconds, well that was the best hangover cure of all!

Sausage, Tomato & Basil Lasagna from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.com

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed (I used sun-dried tomato chicken sausage)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion (do not drain)

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15-ounce container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Assembly:

  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8-ounce package
  • 3 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • Nonstick olive oil spray

Directions:

Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and sauté until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces with back of fork, about 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with juices. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.)

Filling:
Using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.

Assembly:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce atop noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick olive oil spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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