Filed under: Main Course | Tags: Italian sausage, Lasagna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Ricotta, Tomato sauce
I mentioned in my previous post that this weekend is my husband’s birthday. I asked him weeks ago what he wanted me to make, and I shouldn’t have been surprised by his request: lasagna and a lemon cake with chocolate frosting. Ordinarily, this is a simple request. I should have known after the last three months in our host country that I wouldn’t be able to make a quick trip to the grocery store to get all the ingredients. It took me 6 trips to 5 different stores to get everything I needed. First, it started with the pork sausage. In the States, getting pork sausage, of many varieties is no big deal. In a country where most of its residents don’t eat pork…..let’s just say it was tricky. I tried 3 different kinds, from three different stores and still wasn’t totally satisfied. Oh, and then there was the cheese. Two stores looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they carried ricotta. When I did find it, the price was staggering, but what is money when it comes to love?
However, once I finally got everything together, my little sous chefs and I had a nice morning putting together the lasagna. If nothing else, it was a labor of love.
I did have grand plans for the cake. My husband asks for a lemon cake with chocolate frosting every year, as it was what his mother made for him as a child. I was going to make the best lemony layer cake with rich butter cream frosting. But that darn lasagna took so much out of me, that I just didn’t have the energy. As much as I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I didn’t want to spend the whole day devoted to this meal and neglecting the birthday boy. So once I got the lasagna in the oven, I thought, I’ll just dress up a box cake mix. Of course, that was easier said than done. Three trips to two stores to find a simple lemon cake mix and chocolate frosting. Needless to say, the cake fell way short of what I had envisioned, but my husband still enjoyed it and the effort that was put forth (I think!)
Manly, Meaty, Birthday Lasagna
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
4 cups tomato sauce (I used the same recipe from my chicken meatballs)
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup black olives
1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
14 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon each basil, oregano, thyme
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown and crumble the sausage over medium high heat. Drain grease and stir in tomato sauce, mushrooms and olives.
In a bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, herbs, and egg. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the lasagna: place a small layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of lasagna pan. Add an even layer of noodles. Spread a thick layer of tomato and sausage. Add another even layer of noodles. Spread cheese mixture, then noodles. Repeat until all the sauce and cheese are used. Top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
Cover and bake 45 minutes, or until lasagna is set. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese on top is browned and slightly crispy.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
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