Simple cooking relies on the best tasting, best quality ingredients. For lasagna, that means flavorful, good textured pasta, a marinara that isn’t overpowering, Italian cheese, and frozen spinach that still has flavor. Here are specific brands that I like to use:
- Bugoni’s Italian Sausages (in Bozeman, find at Gammardella’s Market)
- Rustichella d’Abruzzo sheet lasagne (in Bozeman, find at Joe’s Parkway)
- Italian cheese: Galbani whole milk ricotta and shredding mozarella (in Bozeman, find at Rosauer’s) and Parmigiano Reggiano (read labels to find authentic “Parmigiano Reggiano or buy pieces cut-to-order (The Gourmet Cellar in Livingston, call ahead to confirm varieties on hand, or online from Zingerman’s)
- Stahlbush Frozen Cut Spinach
The fun starts once you get the ingredients prepared (pasta boiled, spinach thawed, sausage cooked, cheese shredded). Layer into your pan: sauce, pasta, ricotta, sausage (if you’re using it), spinach, mozarella and parm. Repeat three times, ending with cheese on top. Cover with foil, bake it an hour, let it rest a few minutes, then serve it for dinner. Here are a couple photos I snapped along the way:
My friend Don hosted a small group of us for dinner at his apartment in San Francisco when we were all working at Oracle a long time ago. He used standard, wavy-edged lasagne and didn’t boil them first–I had never heard of such a thing, but it worked great. He emailed me his “recipe” and I wrote it up several years later when I started this blog. Return to that original if you want to skip the pre-boiling of the lasagne, or squint and go by Don’s rough guidelines:
- 8 oz. lasagne noodles, about 12 individual pieces (my fave: Rustichella D'abruzzo lasagne sheets)
- 8 - 10 oz. frozen spinach, let thaw at room temperature
- optional: 3 links Italian sausage, hot or mild, cooked then sliced into rounds (Bugoni's)
- 26 oz. jar tasty marinara sauce (Dave's Gourmet Organic Red Heirloom)
- 1 16 oz. container whole milk ricotta (preferably Italian, Galbani's is good)
- 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (preferably Italian)
- 2 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pasta: Set a large pot of water to boil for the lasagne. When it comes to boil, add a couple tablespoons of salt and the pasta. Cook al dente, following package instructions--usually no more than 5 minutes. Remove pasta from the water and set aside.
- Spinach: Remove spinach from package into a colander over the sink. Press and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
- Sausage: Bake at 375 until cooked through, about 15 minutes, or cook on the stovetop in a pan. Slice into discs about 1/4" thick.
- Assembly: Put a few tablespoons of sauce on bottom of a ceramic or glass baking pan (8" x 10" or close) then layer pasta, ricotta, sausage (if using), spinach, mozzarella, and parmesan. Repeat for a total of three layers, ending with cheese on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, removing foil for the last 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit 10 – 30 minutes before serving.