I recently had the opportunity to take dinner to a church friend who had one of those trial-by-fire-sort-of-weeks that makes you cry just hearing about it. My heart ached for her and her family and I desperately wanted to do something more than just take her dinner, but knew that the limitations of reality prevented me from doing much more than that. I racked my brain for the perfect comforting dish, a dish that could feel like one thousand hugs and possess the magic of mending a broken heart all in one casserole dish. Now, this lasagna may not quite do all that, but it comes pretty close.
I made a few changes to a dutch oven recipe my parents have been using for years and went about putting my blood, sweat, and tears into making it. And I’m not just being melodramatic here. I sliced my finger grating cheese, worked up a sweat slaving over the stove, and wept over the onions. While forgoing the blood, sweat, and tears is certainly an option, I make no guarantee that it won’t affect the lasagna’s miracle working powers. The recipe is a generous one. I split it into an 8″ X 8″ pan for my friend and a 9″ X13″ for our piggly family. You could reduce the recipe if you don’t need that much but I would highly suggest simply freezing the smaller pan of lasagna (uncooked) so you can always have a small miracle at the ready. And remember, while this recipe is heart healing, it is not necessarily heart healthy.
Spinach and Sausage Lasagna
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 6 oz water
- 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes including juice
- 16 ounces Lasagna noodles (about 1 1/2 packages, I used Whole Wheat)
- 1 32 oz tub ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 C grated mozzarella
- 1 C grated parmesan (I confess I used pecorino romano because it’s cheaper)
- 1 – 1 1/2 C chopped spinach (I used thawed frozen spinach)
- Fill a pot of water and set it on the boiling path.
- Saute the spices together first in olive oil to release the flavors. Then add the chopped onion and garlic. Add the meat and completely cook it. Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and water (I just filled the tomato paste can up to get my water). Then let it simmer for a while.
- In the meantime, boil the noodles according to package directions and when they’re done lay them on a plate until you’re ready to use them.
- Mix the ricotta with the raw eggs and set it aside. Grate the mozzarella and the parmesan.
- Grab your pans and get ready to assemble. Spoon a layer of the tomato meat mixture on the bottom, put one uncooked layer of noodles, one layer of spinach, and top it with some of the ricottta mixture, mozzarella and parmesan. Continue layering until you reach the top of the pan then sprinkle with a final layer of cheese. Cover with tinfoil.
- Bake at 375 degrees for30-45 minutes depending on the size of the pan. Remove the tinfoil for the last few minutes and switch the oven to broil to give the top a nice crispness. (Don’t get distracted while broiling the lasagna unless you want it to be burnt.)