I am a culinary coward. At the mere suggestion of people coming to dinner, my nerves pop and crackle like Grandma Wilson’s china in the microwave. Of course I blame my mother for my cooking anxiety. Helping in “her” kitchen means watching her re-stuff my deviled eggs and re-roll my date balls because they aren’t “quite right”—a difficult standard to meet when your mother actually majored in home economics. She means well, she just cannot allow a less-than-spherical date ball to make its way onto the Christmas cookie platter.
Nonetheless, she handmade my one and only apron and gave it to me for my thirtieth birthday. “At least it will look nice hanging in your pantry,” she joked before emphasizing how the plucky chicken fabric perfectly coordinates with my kitchen. With that apron, she issued a nonverbal challenge. So I decided to master the one dish that my mother never could: lasagna. My family no longer suspiciously pokes and sniffs at my dish. In fact, they return for seconds, following Mom’s lead.
I may be a culinary coward, but at least I have an apron and a family that likes my messy lasagna . . . a lot. (even if it’s not so pretty on a plate)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (20-ounce) packages hot turkey sausage, casings removed
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (25.5-ounce) cans pasta sauce
¼ cup red wine
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 (16-ounce) package lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and sausage, cooking over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink; drain.
Add sauce, red wine, basil and red pepper flakes to meat mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
In a large saucepan, boil lasagna noodles, leaving them slightly firm. Drain, set aside
In medium bowl, combine ricotta, salt, parsley and egg.
Spread a small amount of sauce into bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch casserole dish. Place 3 lasagna noodles lengthwise on top of sauce, slightly overlapping and keeping flush to one end of the dish. Place one additional noodle widthwise and flush to opposite end to fully cover the bottom of the dish. Spread 1/3 of the remaining sauce over noodles, top with 1/3 ricotta mixture and 1/3 mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Cook time 50 minutes
Serves 8 to 10
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