Everyday Divas Celebrations
with Mimi and Sue
Sue's Holiday Festivities
First Make your Sauce
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage links
In the same sauce pot you will simmer your sauce, heat 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. When slightly shimmering add the sausage links and evenly brown on all sides. Remove from sauce pot and discard fat.
- 1 large sweet onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
In the same sauce pot heat 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until slightly shimmering. Add the onion, a healthy pinch of salt and sauté until translucent, do not brown. Add the garlic and sauté until the fragrance of the garlic releases, no more than 1 minute or so.
- 2 28 oz cans peeled plum tomatoes
By hand, break the tomatoes into the sauce pot discarding any tough stems or skin. Pour in the juice from the cans.
- 8-10 basil leaves washed, spun dry and torn
Add to sauce pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the sausages to the pot. Cover and simmer over very low heat for 2 hours.
My husband's grandmother, the "original" Mimi taught me to make this sauce when I was a newlywed.
Onions are important in this recipe to add sweetness to the sauce. The pinch of salt also releases the sweetness of the onions. I use the two different types of tomatoes because I think it introduces more complexity to the flavors. I've also been told by people that they don't like red wine in their tomato sauce but, again, I think it adds a layer of flavor.
The key to a great sauce is patience!!! You need to let this simmer for 2 hours and you must make sure it doesn't bubble too fast. Check the sauce and if its rapidly bubbling leave the top uncovered slightly to release steam and lower the temperature.
Get your Lasagna Noodles Ready
Boil one lb of noodles according to the package and drain. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and very lightly spray with cooking oil. Place a layer of noodles on the parchment paper. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top (very lightly sprayed with cooking spray) and then place a layer of noodles on the parchment paper. Continue until all the noodles are layered.
Assemble your Lasagna
Grate all of your mozzarella cheese. Grate all of your parmigiano reggiano cheese.
Take a 9"x13" ceramic baking dish and coat the bottom with a generous layer of sauce ( about 1 1/2 cups). Lay lasagna noodles lengthwise in the dish so the bottom is covered. Drop ricotta by the spoonful on top of the noodles and smooth out. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the grated mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Generously sprinkle some parmigiano reggiano on the mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of sauce on top of the cheeses. Lay lasagna noodles lengthwise completely covering the cheese. Repeat the layers until all of the noodles are gone. Make sure you save enough sauce to spoon a layer on top at the end and then sprinkle with mozzarella and grated parmigiano reggiano. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake 5 more minutes to get a nice brown crust. You should see the lasagna bubbling in the dish. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and allow to stand for 15 minutes so that the lasagna sets.
Mimi also taught me to make this lasagna. Here are a few of her tricks of the trade to make the best lasagna you will ever have. Do not skimp on your sauce!! Lasagna noodles soak the sauce up and if you skimp it will be as dry as a bone. After each layer of noodles, before you start the next, take your hand and very gently press down. This spreads the cheese and removes air pockest. You'll have nice solid pieces of lasagna when you cut it to serve.
Many recipes call for one pound of ricotta to one pound of pasta. To make creamy, rich, gooey delicious lasagna double the ricotta: 2 pounds of cheese for 1 pound of pasta.
Grating fresh mozzarella can be difficult because it's mushy. If you put it in the freezer for 15 minutes it will firm up and that makes the task easier. You will simplify this process if you have all your ingredients ready to use and then start assembling.
Serve the lasagna with the sausage and left over sauce on the side.