Sunday Dinner - Lasagna Al Forno

When you think about the perfect meal to share with family and friends, lasagna immediately comes to mind. It's the perfect comfort food, as good, if not better, leftover, and it's impossible to leave the table hungry. While the kitchen may end up a mess, the end result is always worth it.


LASAGNA AL FORNO

 

Total Time: 2 Hours

Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 15 lasagna sheets
  • 1 bag frozen leaf spinach (14 oz)
  • 1 recipe Marinara sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/3 cups Parmesan, shredded
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for lasagna sheets. Coat a 9 x 13" baking dish with nonstick spray.

Process the ricotta, eggs, parsley, sugar, and salt in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Saute the sausage in a large saute pan over medium heat until cooked through. Break up any chunks with a potato masher; set aside.

Blanch lasagna sheets in batches. Blanch spinach in the same water for one minute, remove with a skimmer, and drain on paper towels. Let cool slightly, then gather in the paper towels and squeeze out excess water.

To assemble, spread 1/2 cup marinara on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with 3 lasagna sheets, 1/2 cup sausage, 1/4 cup spinach, 1/2 cup ricotta mixture, 1/3 cup Parmesan, 4 oz mozzarella, and 1/2 cup marinara. Repeat three more times, ending with a layer of pasta and 1/2 cup marinara.

Top the pasta with 1/2 cup marinara and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is golden. Allow the lasagna to rest 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Ninja Tips:

  • Start cooking the marinara sauce first. While it's simmering, saute the sausage and thaw out the spinach. Then make the ricotta mixture.

  • The hot Italian sausage variety works really nicely in this. If you can't find ground, then remove the casing and break up as you cook.

  • Use ready-to-bake lasagna sheets. Saves a step, and it's easy.

  • Just thaw out the spinach, squeeze excess water, and throw it on without blanching. Saves another step.

  • Don't be afraid to wing it. Use more or less of the ingredients to your taste and if you end up with a different amount of layers than in the instructions, no big deal. This tastes amazing no matter how you put it together!


Marinara Sauce

 

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Servings: 5 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 4 cans Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Saute the onion in oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute briefly, then stir in tomatoes with their juice; crush and simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in sugar and seasonings, and simmer 15 minutes longer.

Ninja Tips:

  • The Fire-Roasted Diced tomatoes with garlic are awesome in this. If you're worried about there being too much garlic by adding the fresh too, just cut back on that a little.
  • Don't worry about crushing the tomatoes unless that's the way you like it. Something about the chunkiness is fabulous in this recipe.