Tomato-Sausage Lasagna

I have two friends who have been running something they call “The 150 Project” since the beginning of the year. Basically, their goal is to spend no more than $150 per week on things like groceries, gas, personal care items, entertainment, etc. (Fixed and close-to-fixed expenses like rent, insurance, and utilities don’t count.) I haven’t adopted the project myself (though I do feel like I’ll save money by association!), but they have inspired me to think about spending a bit more carefully and to stretch dollars and resources as far as they can go.

Dollar and resource stretching (“waste not, want not,” if you will) is what inspired me to make today’s recipe – Tomato-Sausage Lasagna from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food.  When I made the Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss a few weeks ago, I used the half pound of Italian sausage that I needed for the recipe and then promptly tossed the rest into the freezer.  I decided to run a search of my recipe spreadsheets to see what I could make with the leftovers, and Tomato-Sausage Lasagna was the most appealing (especially since I had an already-opened package of lasagna noodles in the pantry).  I would have needed a full pound of sausage to make a full lasagna, so I made a half recipe instead.

I’ve made this recipe before, but I’ve never posted it.  One of the reasons I like it (flavor aside) is because you don’t actually have to cook the lasagna noodles.  You just soak them in hot tap water while you do the rest of the food prep.  So, I started by filling an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with hot tap water.   Then, I put 6 lasagna noodles (broken in half) in the water.  (Normally, I’d leave the noodles whole, but they wouldn’t fit in the smaller dish.)

While the noodles soaked, I chopped 1 small onion and 2 garlic cloves.  I heated 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and then added the onion, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and 1/8 teaspoon of red-pepper flakes.  I cooked the mixture until the onions were lightly browned (about 5 minutes) and added 1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage (casings removed).  I stirred and broke up the sausage until it was just cooked through (about 5 minutes) and then added 1 can (28 ounces) of whole peeled tomatoes in puree.  I broke the tomatoes up with a spoon as well and then brought the whole mixture to a boil.  Next, I brought the mixture down to a rapid simmer and cooked it (stirring occasionally) until it was thickened (about 20 minutes).  I seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.

The noodles were softened at this point, so I drained them, transferred them to a baking sheet (a clean cutting board would be fine too), and wiped my baking dish dry.  To assemble the lasagna, I put 1/2 cup of the tomato-sausage sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  I arranged 4 noodle pieces (2 whole noodles) over the sauce, topped the noodles with 1 cup of sauce, topped the sauce with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, and topped the mozzarella with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan.  I repeated the layers two more times, using all the remaining sauce on the last layer.

I covered the dish tightly with aluminum foil and baked it for 40 minutes at 350F.  (A whole recipe needs an hour.)  Next, I removed the foil and continued baking until the lasagna was bubbly and browned (about 25 minutes).  I let the lasagna stand for 20 minutes before cutting it into 6 slices.

Tomato-Sausage Lasagna

I really regret not taking a picture of a *slice* of this lasagna – it came out beautifully.  Some nights I just get so lazy with the photos because we want to EAT, you know? 🙂

This is a seriously yummy dish, though.  It’s a bit unusual as lasagnas go because it doesn’t have any ricotta cheese in it, but you get loads of flavor from the Italian sausage and the Parmesan.  Plus, it reheats beautifully and can even be dressed up for company.  It’s a long-standing favorite at our house.

TIPS:  If you prefer lasagna with a spicy kick, substitute hot Italian sausage for the sweet Italian sausage.

Also, finding whole peeled tomatoes in puree can be a bit tricky.  I ended up finding one can that fit the bill in all the rows and rows of tomato products…  It was what I needed (and it was organic), so I was willing to pay a bit more.  I’ve used whole peeled tomatoes in juice in the past, though, and everything still turns out fine.

Recipe link: Tomato-Sausage Lasagna

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