Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Italian Sausage Lasagna


My mom makes the best lasagna, hands down. But like every good vietnamese cook, she doesn't have a set recipe. In her kitchen, there are no measurements; there is just a bit of guesswork and a whole lot of instinct. Moms in general seem to have that...flair, you know when they just seem to throw random ingredients together and end up with an awesome dish? Mmm yea, I'm not at that level yet. I need a recipe! I've tried replicating her lasagna several times (after noting down her intructions which goes something like this: "Well, you add a bit of this and then put just enough of that and if it seems like you don't have enough, just add more!" haha). Sometimes, the lasagna comes out great and tastes almost just like hers, other times, it's a complete flop.

I wanted to be more consistent and for that, I needed a recipe. I had come across the "World's best Lasagna" on a few times in the past. It was one of the best rated recipes on the site and well, when a recipe claims that it's the best in the world, you can't help being a bit curious. (Although I already know that the world's best lasagna is my mom's hehe).

I have made that recipe twice. The first time I did not make any changes, apart from using 1 teaspoon of salt instead of the 1 tablespoon that the recipe called for (who in the world put one TABLESPOON of salt in a dish?!) It still came out super salty!!! I swear to God, my boyfriend and I each drank at least 2L of water after eating that lasagna haha. The second time, I completely omitted the salt, added more spices to the meat sauce and added a layer to the lasagna. It came out much better! The italian sausages and fennel seeds really added flavor to the dish and made it more special. Next time, I'll probably add some mushrooms or zucchinis; it was a bit too meaty for my taste.

It's a good recipe, although it's not really the world's best lasagna. That's why I changed the recipe's name to Italian Sausage Lasagna (yeah, plain and boring). With a few tweaks, I'm sure I can make it taste exactly like my mom's and then it can live up to its title. :) I'll definitely post the recipe when I uncover my mom's secret. So until then, here's the next best thing!


Italian sausage lasagna
Makes 12 servings
Adapted from

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 cup minced onion
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
1 package (16 ounces) small curds cottage cheese
1 egg
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water and tomato sauce. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning and parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese with egg.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one third of the cottage cheese mixture. Top with a fourth of the grated mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers (noodle-cottage cheese-mozzarella-meat sauce-parmesan cheese) 2 more times, add the remaining 3 noodles and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.


Just look at all that gooey cheese! I used whole wheat lasagna noodles because let's face it, when you eat something this fattening and cholesterol laden, you need something "healthy" in it so you don't feel guilty about pigging out. :)


Post a Comment