Free-Form Sausage-and-Three-Cheese Lasagna
A perfect meal for an at-home date night when you want all the prep work done ahead of time.
Source: Food and Wine magazine
1/4 lb. lasagna noodles
1 T. + 1 t. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
1/8 lb. sweet Italian sausage (about 1 link)
1/4 c. water
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
14-oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
3 oz. Italian Fontina, cut into chunks
1 T. unsalted butter, softened
Fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the noodles to a bowl of cold water and let stand for 2 minutes, then drain. Pat the noodles dry. Transfer to a bowl and toss with olive oil.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 t. of the olive oil. Add the Italian sausage (as a link), cover and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned all over. Add the water, cover and simmer until the sausage is just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 t. of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juices and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sausage and its poaching liquid and simmer for 4 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened, about 12 minutes. Coarsely break up the sausage and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
In a well-buttered baking dish, arrange 1/3 of the lasagna noodles in different directions in the dish (hence, free-form lasagna). Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce over each noodle and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese. Set a piece of mozzarella and Fontina on each lasagna noode and add a few chunks of sausage:
Repeat the process with the remaining lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, mozzarella, Fontina, and sausage, sprinkling with a little more of the Parmesan cheese. Brush the softened butter on any bare pasta and curly edges and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake the lasagna on the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake for about 7 minutes longer. Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes, then scatter the basil on top. Cut into squares and serve.
A Note From The Little Lady: You can make this the day before and refrigerate overnight. Increase baking time to 40 minutes at 425 degrees, and 10 minutes at 450 degrees.