Sausage and spinach lasagna (psst, leftovers reincarnation)

Here’s my approach to cooking: I left a client meeting this afternoon and drove down the main road toward the house. The supermarket rose on the horizon, but if I stayed on the road, I would beat the rush hour traffic. My mind’s eye explored the fridge and I recalled the leftover jalapeno cheese sausage. My mind then scanned the pantry, where a half-package of no-boil lasagna sheets awaited. For the filling, I knew we had ricotta and parmesan cheese. The fridge also contained a half bag of spinach. Apparently, the fridge already held all the answers. Well, at least it told me what to make for dinner: lasagna.

Lasagna with sausage and spinach
Lasagna with sausage and spinach

For the tomato sauce, my from scratch recipe is really fast: sauté in olive oil a few cloves of freshly chopped garlic with about 1/3 of a cup diced sweet onion. Once golden, add a big can of plum tomatoes (28 oz.). Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, I diced the two links of leftover sausage. Then, I mixed 15 oz. of ricotta cheese in a bowl with one egg. To prepare the spinach, I put it on a microwave safe cooking plate and chopped it up with a chef’s knife. I covered it with a couple of wet paper towels and nuked it for three minutes. Now, it was assembly time. While the oven preheated to 375 degrees, I greased a casserole dish with canola spray. Here’s the order: ladle some tomato sauce on the bottom. Lay down lasagna sheets to cover the bottom. Use a spatula to spread a third of the ricotta mixture down. Sprinkle on diced sausage. Spread over that with spinach.  Ladle on more tomato sauce. Repeat that series once more. Finally, cover with lasagna sheets and ladle that top with tomato sauce. Sprinkle top with ample amounts of chopped fresh parsley. Lastly, grate parmesan cheese over as the finishing touch. Bake 25 minutes, then let rest for 15 minutes on the stovetop. How easy was that?

Bon Appetit.

The Sage Leopard

Lasagna, wine and politics

Here I go again with the Italian food centered around meat cooked on the raclette grill.

lasagna for president 2016
Lasagna for President 2016

Well, it is so much better than cooking the meat on the stove. There simply is not any greasy, smoky, meaty, lingering aroma in the house. The meat cooks, it does not burn on our raclette grill. Moreover, the grill cleans in a jiffy. Usually, when I make lasagna, it is an elaborate process, starting with making an extra large vat of homemade tomato sauce. Meanwhile, I’m browning meat in a Dutch oven. Plus, there is the boiling water in the pasta pot for the lasagna. I just don’t have time for that, at least not on a weeknight. Tonight, I broke it down into a much simpler process, starting with the sauce. Lasagna takes a lot of sauce. The past couple of months, every time I cooked tomato sauce I made more than needed for that night, and poured the extra into a container for the freezer. The three containers of frozen homemade sauce became the inspiration for lasagna.

I also have meat on hand in the venison freezer, specifically Italian sausage. All I needed was a package of oven-ready lasagna (no boiling needed), ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella and bagged spinach. Oh, and red wine. I set out the tomato sauce and venison sausage to defrost. I went Christmas shopping and bought the spinach and cheeses.

Three containers of homemade tomato sauce were liberated from the freezer for this meal
Three containers of homemade tomato sauce were liberated from the freezer for this meal
ricotta ready
smooth out the ricotta with an egg and water








Once home, I took the sausage out of the casing and placed the meat on the raclette grill. Then, I set about further defrosting the tomato sauces in the microwave. For the ricotta filling, stir the cheese with an egg and water until smooth. Soon enough, it was time to assemble the lasagna. Coat a baking dish with olive oil spray and ladle in some tomato sauce before starting the layering: lasagna sheet, ricotta, meat crumbles, torn spinach leaves, mozzarella, and commence a new layer. Once assembled, I baked it in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, I kicked back. Now, I am ready to enjoy this easy lasagna, watch a political debate and work on the Christmas cards. The grill made this assembled casserole dish very approachable and easy on a busy weeknight. P.S. The red wine is for drinking with the meal and political debate.