Food as gifts, with an Italian twist.

This month has given me opportunities to bless friends with a meal. One friend had back surgery and another set of friends had a baby. I was brainstorming with my husband about what to make and we decided on lasagna. I can make several at once so there would be some for us also ~ score!

I made the lasagnas on Saturday, baked them on Sunday, then froze the ones I was giving away. That way they would be ready when I was ready to deliver the meals. To round out the meals, I bought dinner rolls from Great Harvest Bread and Caesar Salad mixes from Trader Joe’s. If I’d been really ambitious, I would’ve made my Rosemary Dinner Rolls! Oh well, next time.

One thing I forgot to do was take pictures of the beautiful lasagnas after they were baked. I think I was too hungry to think about a photo op! I doubled the recipe and made one in a 13 x 9 pan as usual, then 3 smaller ones that fit perfectly into single-use pans I bought at the Dollar Tree store. The big one was for our fellowship group that meets on Sunday evenings. One of the small ones was for us, and the other two small ones were to give away. It all worked out fantastically and everyone was well fed!

Here’s my recipe …

LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS

16 ounce box lasagna noodles, the “no-boil” variety

olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (I prefer sweet onions)

2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped

1 pound bulk Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, your preference)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or dried oregano)

1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

28 ounce can tomatoes, chopped

1 cup ricotta, low-fat

1 cup cottage cheese, low-fat

2 cups grated parmesan

2 eggs

6 to 7 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

sea salt or kosher salt

1 pound (16 ounces) grated mozzarella

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the sausage and cook, mixing it with the onion and garlic, until brown and crumbly. Turn the burner to low. Drain the fat from the pan. Then mix in the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Let the pan simmer on the stove while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, cottage cheese, half the parmesan, the eggs and the basil. Mix to combine well and season with salt to taste. If you have a food processor, I highly recommend blending these ingredients together in it to thoroughly disguise the cottage cheese since some folks don’t like it. They’ll NEVER know!

In the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch deep dish baking dish, add a couple ladlefuls of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the noodles to completely cover the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta. Spread 1/3 of the sauce on the pasta and sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and some of the remaining parmesan. Place another layer of pasta going in the other direction as the first layer (this will give a little more stability). Then repeat the layers of ricotta mixture, sauce, mozzarella and parmesan. Be sure the last layer is pasta covered with sauce, mozzarella and parmesan. The ricotta mixture is usually gone by the time you get to this layer.

Cover with foil. I recommend the foil with the non-stick side so you’re less likely to lose any cheese on top.

Place the lasagna on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Note: for optimal slicing, make and bake the lasagna the day before. Heat it up again before slicing.

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Assembled and ready for the oven.

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Good to the last lick.

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All gone. Thoroughly enjoyed.

About Sherri

Health Foodie. Beauty Seeker. Christ Follower.
This entry was posted in Homemade. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Food as gifts, with an Italian twist.

  1. Carrie says:

    Thanks for sharing Sherri…hmmm – Share Bear : ) Love the sausage in your recipe, will try it with my next batch!

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