Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gratitude for the best Sausage, Basil & Cheese Lasagna recipe

Life is Good: when you give, you receive


Month of Gratitude, Day 10

Today, I am grateful for Sausage, Basil, and Cheese Lasagna. This is my go-to lasagna recipe that I found in an old Gourmet magazine (may it rest in peace--I will never understand why that went out of business!).

As I mentioned in my Month of Gratitude, Day 8 post, I wanted to do something good for the world to celebrate my sister's birthday. I will go to Feed My Starving Children with a couple of girlfriends later this month to pack meals for the truly starving in the world, but until then, I decided to feed some other people a little closer to home. I have some friends who could use a prepared meal or two. Some of them have been ill, some of them have recently welcomed babies, all of them would enjoy a night off from the kitchen.

My mom taught me that delivering a meal to someone is a simple way to show you care and that when you give to others, you receive so much, too. When you show a kindness to someone, it works like a boomerang and warms your heart. So with that notion, I took to the kitchen to make meals for some friends' freezers. It felt good to put my mind to work thinking about the recipe, the ingredients, the families I would take the food to.

Today, I am grateful for my parents, who are great examples of thinking of others. They taught me that it is better to give than to receive, but that when you give, you always receive the blessings of fulfillment and joy. And I am thankful for newborn babies and good test results and the medication & technology that we can easily access in America. And for sausage, basil, cheese, flat noodles and the brilliant person who first thought to put them together!

Gourmet Magazine's Sausage, Basil, and Cheese Lasagna
Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I leave this out when cooking for others)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion (do not drain) (or plain diced tomatoes)
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15-ounce container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg (I skip this due to our food allergies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I skip it. The cheese makes it salty-tasting enough for us)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Assembly Ingredients:
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8-ounce package
  • 3 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • Nonstick olive oil spray
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and saut√© until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces with back of fork, about 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with juices. Bring sauce to boil. 

Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.) 

Using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg (we leave it out), 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky. 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce atop noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick olive oil spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down. 

Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. 

Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving to ensure your pieces cut neatly.

Photo and recipe courtesy of

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