If you ever visit the east coast of northern America, you must stop and visit one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and that is, Little Italy in Soho, New York. There is a reason why the Italian immigrants continue to thrive throughout the metropolitan area its the food!
Based on hundreds of years of traditional recipes with variations from cook to cook, one of the most popular and beloved recipes has to be Lasagna. My Lasagna with Sausage Recipe has a rich meat sauce which freezes very well and is layered with mini sausage meatballs and of course, lots of cheese. The meat sauce recipe below is a large batch so that you will have plenty to freeze or use during the week tossed with your favorite pasta.
Meat Sauce Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 large cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsps. dried Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine (merlot, cabernet or sweet vermouth)
2 large (64 oz.) cans tomato sauce + 1 can water (64 oz.)
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 package lasagna sheets
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Romano or parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. ground black pepper
8 medium links of sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
Make the meat sauce.
1. Brown the pork sausage and ground beef over a medium high heat, breaking it up as you go. Drain. In a large soup or stock pot heat 3 tbsps. olive oil over med-high heat and add the onions, garlic, red pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Next, add the dried herbs and the tomato paste, cook stirring often until incorporated.
2. Add the wine and cook uncovered until some of the liquid is absorbed, approximately 5 minutes. Add ground pork and beef, tomato sauce, water and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over a low heat for at least 1 1/2 hours or more. While the sauce is cooking prepare the lasagna sheets according to package directions, drain and spray with cold water. Set aside.
When the meat sauce is finished, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, egg, fresh parsley, cheese and black pepper. Mix well and set aside. Over a medium heat, cook the sausage until brown breaking them into mini meatball pieces as you cook. We are not looking for crumbles here, we want larger pieces. Drain and set aside.
4. Spray a large, deep casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom just to cover. The sauce should be thinned out for the bottom of the dish as this will stop the pasta from sticking. Then, use the following layering method below to build your lasagna, finishing off with pasta sheets topped with meat sauce and lots of mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese. Make sure to overlap the pasta sheets slightly when layering.
Order of Assembly
Pasta sheets, meat sauce, ricotta mixture, sausage, mozzarella. Be generous with the meat sauce!
Bake until the cheese is golden brown for approximately 30-40 minutes. Let the dish rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it or else it will collapse and be a big runny mess!
Enjoy this delicious lasagna with a simple garden salad and/or some wonderful rustic Italian bread. Serve a bowl of meat sauce on the side. :)