In many ways, home cooking is vastly superior to anything you'll ever find at a restaurant. For starters, it's not nearly as expensive, you can control all the ingredients that get put in your meal, and no one will judge you for eating dinner in pajamas. So why is it that home cooking is becoming a lost art? For some it might be that they feel they lack the skills to cook something they can simply buy, for others it might be that watching someone cooking TV is way more entertaining than doing it themselves. I know that a lot of times when I find myself grabbing some take out, it's because I don't feel I have the time, between work and school. However, when I take the time to remind myself that I actually like to cook, I can usually find time to make a meal that, in the end, is much more satisfying than anything I'll ever eat from a carton.
To kick off our project, I wanted to make something that was soulsatisfyingly delicious and was easy to share. I could think of no better dish than lasagna. Not just any lasagna, mind you. One with an herby sauce that is meant for garlic bread. It's not a quick meal, but it's fairly easy to assemble and it's always delicious. *This is a perfect project for Sundays, when you don't want to return to work the next day, but want to feel "productive".
Lazy Sunday Lasagna
1 lb lasagna noodles, boiled in salted water for 4 minutes and then removed (I used de cecco)
1 lb mild Italian sausage
1.T bacon grease
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onions, diced
6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, diced
2 28-oz cans stewed tomatoes (I used whole tomatoes, but I stick blendered one can smooth)
1.5 T dried basil
1.5 T dried parsley
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried sage
1 t dried thyme
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
salt+pepper to taste
16 oz ricotta cheese, drained
1 large egg, gently beaten
1/4 c basil pesto (This is a great place to start for homemade pesto)
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
salt+pepper to taste
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, grated
16 oz mozzarella cheese
To make the sauce, saute the mushrooms in the bacon grease until golden in a large stock pot. Remove mushrooms once cooked. Add in the Italian sausage and cook thoroughly. Remove the cooked sausage from the pot, add in the olive oil, and sweat the onions with a large pinch of kosher salt until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for ~30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, herbs, sausage, and mushrooms and bring to an almost boil. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. This sauce is meant to be cooked, so use this to your advantage to let the flavors mingle.
Mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and pesto. Season with salt+pepper and taste for seasoning. Once you're satisfied, add in the egg and mix to combine.
Preheat the oven to 375. In a large casserole dish, ladle in about 12 oz of the sauce (my ladle is 6 oz, so this is two full ladles) and spread to coat. Place down your lasagna noodles. In my casserole, I can fit 3.5 noodles, so I used kitchen shears to cut one noodle in half. Add in 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Use a spatula to spread the cheese evenly. Evenly spread ~6 oz of sauce over the ricotta mixture and then top with 1/2 c mozzarella cheese. Repeat two more times. Put on your top layer of noodles and then ladle on ~12 oz of sauce. Cover with the remaining mozzarella and 1/3 c of Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another ~10 minutes or so, or until the cheese looks completely melted. Allow the lasagna to "rest" for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.
I wanted to have a little twist on my usual recipe since this was the first meal that we'd all be sharing so I added pesto to the mix.
So, in short, it's not at all impossible to turn these