Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Best Lasagna

It amazes me that these ingredients can come together and make the most delicious comfort food... lasagna!

My secret to an even more amazing lasagna is the added layer of pesto cream sauce!

My favorite part is the golden brown, crusty layer on top.

Here it is in all it's final oozy, gooey, goodness!

Here's my recipe. Don't be scared by all the ingredients... this lasagna does have a few steps but believe me, it's all worth it in the end. Plus you'll have enough lasagna to last a week!

The Best Lasagna with Turkey Sausage and Pesto Cream Sauce

The Tomato Sauce:
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 1/2 jars Emeril's Marinara (my favorite jarred tomato sauce)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tablespoons olive oil

The Pesto Cream Sauce:
Large bunch of basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups whole milk

The Ricotta Layer:
15 oz. Ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. oregano

1.5 lb. grated mozzarella cheese
1 box lasagna noodles

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Begin by placing a large pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for the recommended amount of time. Strain and let cool.

Add the olive oil to a large saute pan and bring to medium high heat. Add the onions and sausage and let brown, add salt and pepper. (And by brown, I mean really brown. The caramelization is key... it adds so much flavor to the sauce.) Add the minced garlic just as the sausage and onions start to brown. Once the ingredients have thoroughly browned, stir in the tomato paste and 1 1/2 jars of tomato sauce. Let sauce simmer on the stove while you make the other layers.

For the ricotta layer, blend all ingredients together and set aside.

To make the pesto cream sauce you need to make a roux. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add the flour and let cook in the butter for a minute. Add the milk and stir using a wire whisk. The sauce will thicken as it heats. Next blend the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese and olive oil in a food processor. (Or skip this step and use a store bought pesto.) Add the pesto to the cream sauce and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then just assemble your lasagna. Add some sauce to the bottom of your baking dish so that the lasagna doesn't stick to the bottom. Next a layer of lasagna, then the ricotta cheese mixture, then a layer of grated mozzarella cheese. Drizzle the pesto cream sauce over the cheese and finally add a layer of tomato sauce. Repeat until you have 4 layers. Add tomato sauce to the top layer and cover with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until it is bubbly and the top has a golden brown crust.

Side Notes:

One key to a great lasagna is to overlap the lasagna noodles in the baking dish, so use 5 lasagna noodles per layer. This insures that the lasagna won't fall apart when you cut it into pieces.

Also, feel free to make your own favorite lasagna (I'm sure you all have a special family recipe) and add the pesto cream sauce as a special touch.


Theresa Cowing said... i'm hungry for lasagna and it's not even 9am!

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