adapted from allrecipes.com
Sweet Italian Sausage Lasagna
(makes 9x13 pan)
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
3/4 pound lean ground beef*
1/2 cup minced or chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsely
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Several handfuls of freshly washed and dried spinach leaves, optional
12 lasagna noodles
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon, and until meat is no longer pink. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 7 minutes (noodles will cook some more while in oven). Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with nutmeg, egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Arrange 3 to 6 noodles (or however many it takes to cover bottom of pan) lengthwise over meat sauce.
Spread with a third of the ricotta cheese mixture, and top with a third of the spinach leaves in a single layer.
Top with a third of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Repeat layers (up to twice more), and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Cover pan with non-stick foil, or spray regular foil with non-stick cooking spray to prevent cheese from sticking. Place pan on baking sheet to catch any drips.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes.
Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Optional: Sprinkle fresh or dried parsley on top before serving.
*Definitely use lean ground beef, as this will result in less grease and prevent the need to drain the meat.