There is nothing like Lasagna to feed a crowd or to have on hand for out of town visitors, especially when the visitors are your sister and her two teenage sons. When my sister, Marcy, visited in March I made two lasagnas- one sausage and one spinach. In response to her request for the recipe, I promised to blog about it. At the time, I was 6 months pregnant, so I hope she doesn’t mind that I am writing this almost 7 months later-I’ve been a little busy.
Basic lasagna, as we know it, usually includes noodles, a tomato sauce, and a Bechamel sauce. Bechamel is also known as white sauce, and it consists of butter, flour, milk, and salt. This is an “easy” recipe for Lasagna that instead uses eggs mixed with cheeses. Fresh homemade lasagna noodles would be the ultimate choice for any lasagna, but since this is an easy version of the classic, store bought noodles will do just fine. I particularly like Barilla’s “oven ready Lasagne”.
These perfectly flat noodles are extra thin and unlike those with the squiggly edges, are more like homemade. The very best part is you do not need to boil them first. They come in a smaller box, so do a double check at the store to make sure you’re buying the right ones. (The last time Lou was sent to the store to pick up noodles, he came home with Barilla’s other lasagne noodles, which require boiling before assembling.)
One package lasagne noodles, cooked as directed on package if required.
Olive Oil for sautéing
1 yellow onion, diced
4 to 6 (depending on size) crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 Tablespoons sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon salt or 2 teaspoons Diamond kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (black pepper works too)
1 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
½ pound mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Extra grated parmesan cheese for the top.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat the sides and bottom of a large baking dish with olive oil.
Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried oregano, and basil. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, breaking tomatoes up.
While the tomato sauce is simmering, beat the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add the sour cream or yogurt, salt, pepper, and ricotta and stir until blended. Then stir in the grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
To assemble, first spoon some of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Then layer the noodles, followed by the cheese sauce and then tomato sauce. Repeat layers ending with tomato sauce and top with additional grated parmesan cheese. If using the oven ready noodles, you’ll have 4 layers, each consisting of 4 sheets of pasta, alternating the direction of the noodles with each layer. They may overlap slightly and will spread out to fill in the gaps when baking. If using boiled pasta with the squiggly edges, you’ll have 3 layers, each consisting of 3 noodles, all layed out the long way.
Italian Sausage Lasagna:
Add one pound cooked and crumbled Italian sausage on top of each cheese layer. We like the spice of hot Italian sausage.
Blanche ½ pound fresh spinach in salted water. Drain well and chop. Add to the cheese sauce mixture along with a couple pinches of ground nutmeg.
This is a very satisfying meal to have waiting for you in the fridge, but the best place for it might actually be the freezer. You’ll have an arsenal at the ready when you unexpectedly do not have time to cook for yourself or to give to a friend or family member who is in need of some home-cooking. You can freeze an uncooked, assembled lasagna or you can fully cook the lasagna first, allow to cool, then cover tightly and freeze whole or in smaller portions.