My mom and our neighbors in Enumclaw made fantastic, hearty farm-style lasagnas during our growing-up years. My mom, brother, sister, and I still whip these up for intimate or sprawling dinners, and everyone is always so surprised at the delicious outcome…I don’t know why. We’ve been doing it for years! Spicy sausage and whatever vegetables you have on hand, sauce in a jar or homemade if you have the time, cheese of choice, and voila, you have a hearty favorite dinner for a few with leftovers or a crowd without. Enjoy some Tom Petty and a little wine solo or with friends as you pull the ingredients together. This is so delicious the second day, that you might want to plan a day-after party!
Listen: Tom Petty’s Hard Promises Album. It doesn’t get much better than this, so remember to keep making the layers, or just have another glass of wine and enjoy the artistry of Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch, Ron Blair, and, of course, the inimitable TP. Yum. Really. This album also features a little guest appearance by the Gypsy Rose, aka Stevie Nicks. Hold on to your hat. You’ll be dancin’ for sure.
Sip: Hmm, this is a process, so you may want to start with a nice sipper like a Viognier from South Coast while you assemble and get the groove on. Later, when you finally sit down at the table, you definitely need a sassy red: how about South Coast San Giovese?
The Ingredients of Love:
- 2-3 jars of your favorite sauce or a big batch of homemade marinara (more on this on another post if you have some time on your hands)
- lasagna noodles (I’m partial to ye olde traditional that need to be boiled; however, if you’re in a time pinch, you could go with the new-fangled “No Bake–Oven Ready” which definitely have a different texture, not necessarily bad, just different; judge for yourself.)
- spicy Italian sausage (1/2# for small, 1# for the crowd; the taste varies hugely according to the source; Trader Joe’s makes one my family loves, but if you have a local butcher source, give it a whirl.)
- veg single or combo: blanched and squeezed spinach or chard, grilled or baked eggplant, sauteed zucchini, sauteed or grilled mushrooms, sauteed fennel, the currently-ubiquitous kale sauteed or steamed to tenderness, etc. (Whatever the local farmers’ market or your garden is touting is what you should grab.)
- cheese single or combo: freshly-grated mozzarella in the middle and Parmigiano Reggiano on the top are our family favorites, but who says you can’t experiment? Depending on the sauce and veg, you could go crazy here. Don’t be shy.
The Happy and Painless Process:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, roll up your sleeves, pour a glass of wine, and cue music.
- Cover the bottom of a square (for an intimate gathering) or a rectangular (for increasingly larger networks of friends who hear you’re making this) pan with a layer of sauce.
- Cover the sauce with a layer of noodles. Boiled al dente if you’re traditional and time-happy, or removed straight from the box if you’re newfangled or in a hurry.
- Slit and peel back the casing on the Italian sausage. Saute until browned on edges and pink is gone. Layer it on!
- Slather another layer of sauce and noodles here if you choose, or go freestyle.
- Saute or blanche some veg so that the bulk of the moisture is out. Layer them on.
- Grate some mozzarella or cheese of choice and layer it on.
- Slather another layer of sauce and noodles here.
- Thoroughly cover the top layer of noodles with sauce so no nood is nude.
- Grate and evenly spread a layer of Parmigiano Reggiano over the final sauce layer so that the top is evenly-covered for a nice golden glow and slightly-crisp topping when baked.
- Pop into the oven and bake until the top achieves the golden glow, the filling is bubbling, and the house smells like love. This will be around 30-60 minutes, depending on the girth of your masterpiece.
While the house is being filled with this crazy delicious smell, rinse and dry some salad greens, make Mrs. Baker’s Dressing from this blog, and toss the salad. Slice some fresh bread from your local baker, set the table, and open the red wine to air. Be forewarned, when all of this appears together on a table with friends and family gathered, no one will want to leave, so you may need another bottle, and another playlist.