When I was a kid, my dad would ask me every year what I wanted to eat for my birthday dinner. Year after year, it was the same answer: Lasagna. My dad’s lasagna isn’t like your average lasagna, it’s filled with unexpected flavors like salty pesto, creamy ricotta, sweet sausage, and tangy tomato sauce. Fast forward to today when every time I recreate the dish, my friends and family claim it is, without a doubt, the best thing I make. And I have to agree.
This is a particularly great recipe for dinner parties because you can prep (and cook if you want) ahead of time and everyone always loves it. We had friends over last weekend and the four-year-old girl told us that she “actually” liked this lasagna which, from a kid, is pretty much the biggest compliment you can get.
So that I can eat it (I have an aversion to cow dairy), I use sheep’s milk ricotta throughout and always make one half without the grated mozzarella on top. Pamesan cheese tastes better (IMO) but if you can’t have cow dairy, you can sub in pecorino romano.
My dad swears it tastes even better if you make full-on meatballs with the sausage or ground beef and then crumble the meatballs. But I have never actually taken the time to do that. And it’s a well-known fact that this tastes even better the next day.
I am so happy to be sharing this family recipe with you guys. I hope you love it as much as we do!
My dad’s famous lasagna recipe:
– 1 large bottle of tomato sauce. I use Rao’s marinara sauce. If you’re really feeling up for it, make your own! But let’s be honest, who has the time for that?
– 1 cup of ricotta cheese
– 1 box of lasagna pasta
– 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage, out of its casing (I ask the butcher at the grocery store to remove it for me and they usually will)
– 1.5 cups of basil pesto
– 3 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
– 1 cup of pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
– Pre-heat oven to 350
– Cook pasta until tender
– While pasta is cooking, mix ricotta and pesto and set aside
– Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sautée sausage until it’s cooked through, breaking it into tiny pieces as you go.
– In a 9×12 baking dish, start layering the lasagna in the following order:
– A thick layer of tomato sauce drizzled with olive oil
– Meat covered lightly with tomato sauce and sprinkled with pecorino romano/parmesan cheese
– Pesto/ricotta mixture
– Cover lightly with tomato sauce, sprinkle with Mozzarella and pecorino romano/parmesan
– Cover with tin foil and cook for 30 minutes
– Uncover and cook for 10-15 more minutes until the cheese begins to bubble
– Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with extra sauce on top
Photo by Julia Dags.