The first lasagna I ever made was with my roommate back in college. I had just barely learned how to make a basic red sauce and he was determined to show me the ropes of putting together a good lasagna. Admittedly, my own process and ingredients have become much more elaborate over the years, but all of the basic principles behind this classic Italian dish I owe to him. He was the king when it came to proper sauce thickness, layering, and using just the right amount of cheese to hold everything together. I will never forget his advice.
This one’s for you buddy.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Red Wine Meat Sauce
- Tomatoes (crushed)
- Onion (chopped)
- Garlic (minced)
- 2 cups Red Wine
- Hot Italian Sausage (1/2 lb.)
- Basil (chopped)
- Tomato paste
- Oregano (dried)
- Red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese (grated)
- Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1 egg
- Lasagna pasta
- Broccoli (chopped)
- Green onions (chopped)
(Preheat the oven to 400 F)
Start off by making the ricotta mixture. This will act as sort of a binding agent to help hold the layers of lasagna together.
Combine the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, breadcrumbs, and egg in a mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly.
Set off to the side for later.
Note: Be careful not to go overboard with the breadcrumbs. It will become extremely hard to spread the mixture if you do. (I learned the hard way)
To make the sauce, heat up olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onions. Cook until the onions start to become clear and then add the minced garlic.
Next add crushed tomatoes, 2 cups of red wine, chopped basil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.
Give it a good stir and simmer for 10 minutes.
Then add the hot Italian sausage and simmer for another 10 minutes. This is also a good time to bring water for the pasta to a boil.
Once the sauce has reduced, turn off the heat and mix in the tomato paste to thicken.
Cook the pasta for 8 minutes.
Now it’s time to build this masterpiece!
Line a lightly oiled lasagna pan with your first layer of pasta and the ricotta mixture.
Then add sauce.
And chopped broccoli.
Repeat these steps until you reach the top layer of pasta.
Finish with a thin layer of sauce, mozzarella, and top with chopped green onions.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Once out of the oven, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
(I don’t know about you, but my favorite pieces are the crunchy ends)
I’ve played around with many versions of lasagna over the years—different sauces, vegetables, cheeses, etc.—but this has to be one of my favorites. It has everything that I’m looking for in a lasagna. It’s thick, it’s hearty, and it’s cheesy. The red wine lends a nice, fruity depth to the sauce…the broccoli ensures that every bite has a brilliant crunchy texture…and the sausage and red pepper flakes throw out just the right amount of heat on the finish.
I can’t say that it’s perfect, but it’s pretty damn close.
Until next time, take care.
(Oh, and if you want to truly eat it like my roommate would, add a heaping scoop of cottage cheese on top!)