I have a love/hate relationship with lasagna.
I feel the need to diagram this for you. Bear with me.
LASAGNA LOVE / LASAGNA HATE
Feeds a crowd / Always too much leftovers
Easy to transport / Can be slightly boring, typical, and average
Cheese + pasta = good / Fattening, not usually much nutritional value
Despite my lasagna ambivalence, somehow it always ends up being what I make when I want to bring a comforting dinner to someone.
This does not mean, however, that I resign myself to the boredom oftentimes associated with lasagna. I’m trying to show someone I care, not drown them in cheese and ground beef.
I’m not hating on lasagna traditionalists. It’s not my goal to offend your grandma, who has made lasagna the same way for 45 years, and she’ll have it no other way.
I just find that lasagna becomes a lot more interesting when there are vegetables added to it, ground beef replaced with flavorful Italian sausage, and a variety of cheeses.
Always a fan of skipping a step if it’s not necessary, I like to use no-boil noodles. If you’ve never tried the no-boil version (usually located right next to regular ones), they come out just as nicely as their traditional pre-boiled counterparts.
Here’s the lasagna I like to eat, and to feed my family. Spinach balances out any cheese calories, right? Yes, I can dream.
Italian Sausage Lasagna with No Boil Noodles
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
4 cups marinara sauce
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 pound button mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed to release all moisture
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 slices Provolone cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
Fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat olive olive over medium heat and saute onions until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until they have slightly reduced in size. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add Italian sausage, and cook, breaking up with a wood spoon, until no longer pink.
Meanwhile, add spinach to ricotta and combine well. Set aside.
Stir marinara sauce into the meat and mushroom mixture. Season with oregano, basil and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour 1/3 of sauce mixture on the bottom of a 9 by 13 casserole dish.
Layer 3 noodles horizontally over the sauce.
Spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Pour more sauce on top of cheese and spread evenly. Layer three more noodles over sauce and cover with remaining ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Top with remaining sauce mixture over cheese and place 6 pieces of Provolone on top. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until cheese on top is browned and bubbling.
If you don’t have any no-boil lasagna noodles, simply prepare the ones you do have according to the instructions on the box and follow the rest of the steps the same way.
There are so many variations you can create with lasagna. Don’t like tomato sauce? Use alfredo or vodka sauce. Don’t eat pork? Use ground chicken or turkey.
Note: I made a smaller version in an 8 x 8 pan, as pictured. This recipe is for a 9 x 13 dish.