The Hungover Gourmet


My Mother Never Made Lasagna, and Other Childhood Traumas

I was thinking about some of my mother's favorite dishes the other night and I came to a realization. She never made us lasagna. We'd have chili, meatloaf, fried chicken, fish sticks, scrambled eggs, and all the favorites of American family fare, but we never had lasagna.

When I got older, my sister used to make lasagna for large family gatherings even though our ethnic makeup was something along the lines of Scottish-Irish-Polish-Russian. Sure beats the hell out of Haggis, Boiled Potatoes, and Vodka.

The thought that we never had lasagna sort of troubled me, so I tried to decipher why. The answer came pretty quick...Mom didn't like to follow directions. While my father is a firm believer in following the steps of any process, Mom was more into winging it and seeing what came out of the oven.

While a couple siblings inherited Dad's more rigid approach to a process, I got the best of both worlds. I have Mom's knack for cobbling together a meal from nothing and Dad's ability to rigidly follow directions, but only when the time calls for it.

Lasagna is one of those times that calls for it. I make a nice deep dish lasagna a couple times a year, and this dish is great as a leftover for a night or two.


1 lb. bulk sweet sausage, crumbled
2/3 cup fresh chopped onions
2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tbsp. fresh minced garlic
3 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 and 1/2 tsps. Italian seasoning
1 and 1/2 tsps. Oregano
1 and 1/2 tsps. Sweet Basil
1 lb. part-skim Ricotta cheese
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
2 tsps. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Browning the MeatBrown sausage, onions, half the parsley and minced garlic in a skillet or stock pot. Drain. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, and seasonings. Mix well and simmer, covered, for five minutes. Stir occasionally.

In a bowl combine the remaining parsley, ricotta, spinach, parmesan, eggs, garlic salt, and pepper. Mix well.

Just before the oven!In a lightly greased 13x9x2 baking dish spread 2 cups of the sauce mixture. Begin layering with four noodles (though my pan would only hold three), 1/3 of the cheese mixture, 1/3 of the remaining sauce, and 1 cup of Mozzarella. Repeat layering, ending with the noodles, sauce, and cheese.

Bake, covered at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let lasagna stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

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