Lasagna and I have a love-hate relationship. My husband loves it, and I have grown to “like” it. My Mom made it one day for some dinner a few years ago, that seriously turned out perfect. It was the perfect combination of sausage and ground beef, had the perfect balance of cheese, noodle, and meat, incorporated some amazing sautéed mushrooms, and frankly, was kick ass.
Since that lasagna, mine just haven’t held a candle. I have used gluten free pre-boil noodles, no-cook noodles, different brands of noodles, all with mediocre results. Something was always missing; whether I didn’t let it cook long enough, didn’t incorporate enough meat, or added too much cheese, almost every time there was something worthy of the Lasagna King’s complaint. I gave up on the dish for a while, re-evaluating my approach and basically putting the meal on the back burner for a while to avoid yet another failure.
After making my shift back to the home, I discovered the major ingredient I was missing was time. I was not taking enough time to prepare, layer, and certainly wasn’t giving the dish enough time to not only bake in the oven, but rest and set up before serving. When I was getting home at four thirty, some times five o’clock, I definitely did not have enough time to invest the adequate amount of attention needed to properly prepare a lasagna, especially with two toddlers in cabin fever over load running circles around my feet. So it was on my first week working from home that I decided to brave this dish again, but taking a “let’s start from scratch” approach.
I decided to risk it and try the no-boil noodles that bake in the oven, since my Mom always seems to have good luck with them. I used the Gluten Free Cafe brand and this really worked out well in the final product.
I also decided to eliminate ground beef or ground venison and go for a mild Italian sausage (you could switch in sweet Italian sausage if you preferred.) One pound works well for a half-pan. My Pyrex dish is an odd size identified as 6-cup and you can find this dish HERE if you are in the market for a new baking dish. This is the perfect size for one box of no-boil noodles. If you decide to make a 9 x 13 and double the recipe, be sure to purchase two boxes of noodles.
I began the recipe by browning my sausage with a little olive oil.
Once the meat cooked down, I added 1/3 of a jar of Del Grosso Meat Flavored Sauce. You can use your favorite sauce at this point, I just grew up with this specific one and will most likely always use it.
continue to let this cook and thicken on low heat for a few minutes. In the mean time, if you haven’t thawed your frozen package of chopped spinach, toss it in a colander and run hot water over it. It takes just a few minutes to thaw.
After thawing the spinach, be sure to drain it, literally ring it out with paper towels until all the extra liquid has been removed. I only used about half of the spinach, keeping in mind I didn’t want to freak out the Lasagna King with too much “Green” or have the threenage inspector obsess a little too harshly on the flecks of green spoiling her favorite meal.
I then combined all of the cheeses, eggs, and seasonings and tossed in my spinach. By this point, I really started to get excited about my new invention!
Once you’ve mixed your cheese mixture, the fun of layering can begin! Start with a solid layer of sauce from your remaining 2/3 of a jar.
Every time I open a box of lasagna noodles, I feel like I am putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are always slightly smashed, but luckily it doesn’t matter. And if you’re going for that suzy-homemaker quality look, just save the few solid pieces for the top layer. No one will know the difference.
Once you’ve pieced together the first layer, add in half of your sausage mixture.
Continue with a second layer of puzzle piece lasagna noodles, breaking the pieces as needed to fit into the dish you’re layering in. Then drizzle a little more sauce onto the noodles. I like to spread it around with a spoon once I’ve added the drizzle.
The next step is to dollop on the entire cheese mixture. Yes, to please the Lasagna King we must have two time the meat in comparison to the cheese. This is so wrong to me, but the end result was delicious so maybe, just maybe he’s right. Once in a while.
More Sauce, More noodle, repeat Meat layer, more noodle, and top it off with sauce.
Cover your final product with foil and pop that bad boy in to a preheated oven and cook at LEAST one hour. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. There is nothing that annoys the “Lasagna King” more than a runny lasagna.
Once I pulled the dish from the oven, I knew almost immediately that the lasagna was going to be a hit. The noodles weren’t curled and hard on top, so the foil lid was definitely critical, I did a quick sprinkle of additional mozzarella cheese across the top to add a finishing touch to the dish and let it sit about a half hour before digging in.
I think the strangest part about being home more, is actually being ready for dinner before my husband gets home. I find myself beginning to feed the girls before he’s even home, simply because I can, and I feel so ORGANIZED lately. It’s been a real mental health check to say the least.
I can report that my girls BOTH ate this recipe, spinach included, and never questioned it once! While I did add the spinach, do not mislead yourselves, this is not a healthy recipe! No, it is a rich, flavorful, greasy, and delicious twist on the average lasagna. Hopefully this will entertain and please the “foodies” in your household. Happy Saturday!
Spinach and Sausage Lasagna
A simple twist to amp up the average classic recipe and please the picky eaters in any household
- 1 box Gluten Free Cafe No-boil lasagna noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb loose mild (or sweet) italian sausage
- 1 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (Del Grosso)
- 1 8 oz container Ricotta Cheese
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed.
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese plus additional for topping
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1 egg
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Brown sausage with 1 tbsp olive oil. Drain and add 1/2 jar spaghetti sauce. Cook until slightly thickened.
- In a separate bowl combine Ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, 1/2 of spinach, egg, and seasonings. Mix well.
- In a small glass baking dish, begin layering: Sauce, noodles, half of meat, noodles, & sauce.
- Add entire cheese mixture and carefully spread, following with a drizzle of sauce, and another layer of noodles. Add remaining meat, top with noodles and one last layer of sauce.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour. Remove and let stand 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving.