Difficulty: Fairly Easy
Preparation: 40 min.
Baking time: 40-45 min.
A hearty meat lasagna recipe for a rich tasting lasagna that includes italian ingredients without being an actual traditional italian lasagna recipe; but what can I say... it is delicious, so here is this recipe! (For a slightly spicier version, use the spicy Italian sausages instead. And if you have no fresh herbs on hand, we can replace them with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each dried basil and oregano, and add them to the tomato sauce.
* 1 lb. Italian sausage, skin removed (about 4-5 sausages)
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) crushed tomatoes
* 3 tablespoons (45 ml) tomato paste
* 1/2 cup (125 ml) dried tomatoes, chopped
* 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh basil
* 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh oregano, chopped
* 20 lasagna noodles
* 1 pack (300 g) frozen spinach, thawed
* 1 container (500 g) ricotta cheese
* 1 cup (250 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 lb. (1/2 kg) grated mozzarella cheese
* 1 egg
* 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
* 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1. Press the spinach with your hands against a strainer to extract as much liquid as possible; then leave spinach in the strainer at least 45 minutes.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the sausages over medium-high heat setting, mixing constantly and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for about 5 to 7 minutes or until that the meat has browned. Degrease the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, pepper and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, dried tomatoes, basil and oregano and mix. Reduce heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes to reduce the sauce until it reaches a thick consistency.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pot filled with boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles for 6 to 8 minutes or until they are tender but still slightly crunchy. Drain well. Spread the noodles on two damp kitchen towels, then cover with other wet cloth. Reserve.
4. Chop coarsely the spinach. In a bowl, using a fork, mix the spinach with the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup (125 ml) Parmesan cheese, 1 cup (250 ml) mozzarella cheese, the egg, salt and pepper.
5. Grease a lasagna pan and line the bottom with four lasagna noodles. Using a large spoon, spread evenly half the spinach mixture over the lasagna noodles. Top with four more lasagna noodles, then spread half the meat sauce. Repeat these steps twice to obtain two layers of everything and finish with a layer of noodles. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese over your lasagna. Bake in preheated oven to 375 °F (190 °C) 40 to 45 minutes or until the lasagna becomes bubbly and the cheese crispy golden brown.