Sarah's Lasagna Fantastico
2 28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, pureed
1 pound ground Italian sausage, mild or hot
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Half a yellow onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ serrano pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
1 pound lasagna noodles
1 pound shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
2 to 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Use a food processor to puree the tomatoes until smooth and lump-free; set aside.
In a sauce pan, brown the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked. Drain the fat and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium-low heat for one minute, then add the extra-virgin olive oil and heat for an additional minute. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the onion, red pepper flakes and serrano pepper and cook until onions are softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook over medium-high heat until reduced, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the pureed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, add the cooked sausage and cook for 30 to 60 minutes until desired consistency is reached. If sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water as needed. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to one month.
As the sauce simmers, fill a large pot with water and 1 to 2 tablespoons kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles according to direction on package. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain and rinse noodles with cold water to prevent further cooking.
Assemble the lasagna, cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about one hour, until cheese is fully melted and bubbly. Remove foil and broil until top is golden brown. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
To assemble the lasagna:
- Use a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and lightly coat bottom with olive oil or some of the sauce.
- Cover bottom of dish with a layer of noodles, slightly overlapping each other. Cover with a layer of sauce, followed by a generous layer of shredded mozzarella and a light sprinkling of Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Repeat for at least 3 layers.
- For a final flourish, dot the top with the torn fresh mozzarella pieces.
- Cover with foil and bake immediately, or freeze for up to one month. To help prevent the cheese from sticking, lightly spray the foil with cooking spray before placing on top of the pan.
- For a spicier version, use hot Italian sausage and add seeds from serrano pepper.
- If you have fresh parsley or basil on hand, throw in a sprig or two as the sauce simmers, and remove once the sauce is ready.