I’m a creature of habit. So when I make tomato sauce, there’s a rhythm and order of things or it’s not quite right – like sauce superstitions of some sort.
It starts by opening a bottle of red wine and pouring myself a glass before adding some to the onions; I have to slice the garlic paper thin like when they cooked in prison in Goodfellas (remember?); then I have to play at least one Dino or Frank song, preferably while the sauce is simmering.
An Italian American Classic
And, when it comes to making lasagna, I have approximately 19,000 versions but my happy place is my Mom’s version, this Sweet Sausage and Three Cheese Lasagna recipe. It’s a ridiculously easy (no béchamel to speak of) crowd pleasing take on Italian-American lasagna made with ricotta, mozzarella, sweet Italian sausage, and an easy homemade tomato sauce.
There’s no fuss about it and it’s really comforting – especially since it’s got loads and loads of cheese. I mean, high-quality ricotta and a well-made tomato sauce is my Kryptonite, people!
We should reiterate that this is not a traditional recipe that you’ll come across when you travel to Italy but rather a homey family recipe that’s been tweaked and altered through the years by my Italian-American family.
Variations On This Recipe
Also, it’s a dish you can make ahead by baking it and then freezing it or freezing it unbaked and then baking it about twice the time listed here once you do make it. Also, this is ripe for variations.
Make it vegetarian by nixing the sausage. Add in smoked provolone instead of the mozzarella for another layer of flavor. Stir garlicky sautéed greens into the ricotta. Or even add a few dollops of basil pesto to the top just before serving.
Just don’t make it overly complicated because the beauty of this recipe is that it’s simple, straightforward, and reliably delicious.
What To Serve With This Lasagna
You’ll want to serve this salad with something that’s vinegary, bright, and light so it can complement and contrast to the tomato and cheese in the lasagna. A salad with spicy greens is a great pairing. Here are a few we’d recommend:
- Escarole, Charred Mandarins, Toasted Almond Salad with Rosemary Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Squash, Arugula, Pomegranate Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Arugula Hearts Of Palm Avocado Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette
Sweet Sausage and Three Cheese Lasagna Recipe
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound uncooked sweet Italian sausage remove from casing and crumbled
- 1/2 pound lean ground pork
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 (28-ounce) containers crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 medium bay leaf
- 1 (9-ounce) box no-boil lasagna noodles
- 24 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 pound low-moisture mozzarella cheese thinly sliced
- 2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Make The Sausage Tomato Sauce: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and garlic, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until just softened. Add sausage and ground pork and stir to break up meat.Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat starts to color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine and cook, scraping bottom of pan to incorporate browned bits, until the alcohol smell is cooked off.
- Simmer The Tomato Sauce: Add tomatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, basil, oregano, bay leaf, and season well with freshly ground black pepper. Stir until well mixed and tomatoes start to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Assemble The Lasagna: Heat oven to 375 degrees F and arrange rack in middle.Spread 2 cups sauce in a thin layer over the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Layer 4 noodles over sauce, top with 2 cups sauce and spread it evenly over the noodles. Evenly dollop 1/4 of the ricotta across the sauce, top with 1/4 of the mozzarella, and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and bake until liquids are bubbling and noodles are beginning to soften, about 40 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue baking until top is golden brown and noodles are completely tender, about 20 minutes more. Allow to rest at least 30 minutes before cutting.