This lasagna has a crunchy top, but a soft middle.
Chef Todd English makes a good lasagna.
I still remember one I had at his Olive’s Restaurant in Boston that was made with veal.
He has a knack for taking an old standard and then being innovative, without being preposterous, paying more attention to the flavors of a dish than the flair.
On Sunday I made one of his lasagnas from his other restaurant, Figs. Figs is more casual and family-friendly, and so is this lasagna.
He deviates from the traditional lasagna recipe by using no-boil noodles, Fontina cheese and fresh mozzarella. But I have a confession to make: I bought the standard, rubbery, mozzarella by mistake, instead of the fresh balls of mozzarella, and the result was still very good.
For the sauce:
- Olive oil (1 tbsp.)
- Garlic cloves (5, thinly sliced)
- Onion (1 small, chopped)
- Sweet Italian Sausage (1 1/2 pounds, casings removed, and crumbled) (English says you can experiment here with different types of sausages and recommends trying spicy chicken.)
- Diced Canned Tomatoes (6 cups). (I actually used a box of diced tomatoes; a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes, chopped up; and one large fresh tomato from the farmers market, chopped.)
- Fresh Basil Leaves (1/2 cup, chopped)
- Kosher Salt (1/2 - 1 tsp.)
- Black Pepper (1/2 tsp.)
For the layers:
- No-Boil Lasagna Noodles (About 1 1/2 boxes)
- Fresh Mozzarella (1 1/2 pounds, cut in large dice)
- Italian Fontina Cheese (3/4 pound, sliced thin)
- Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese (2/3 pound)
- Fresh Basil (1 bunch; several leaves)
- Kosher Salt (2 tsp.)
- Black Pepper (1 tsp.)
- Parmesan Cheese (1 to 1 1/2 cups, freshly grated)
What I did:
To Make the Sauce:
Stir occasionally as needed.
Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and toast it for about 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the sausage and cook until fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and discard any excess fat.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the basil and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
Fresh basil adds a bright lift to the flavors in this dish.
To Assemble the Lasagna:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put a light coating of olive oil on a 9 x 12 roasting pan or lasagna pan.
Fill a large bowl with hot water. Dip the noodles and then drain.
Cover the bottom of the pan with noodles.
Spread some sauce over the noodles.
Top with a little mozzarella cheese (it does not have to cover completely)
Top with a little Fontina cheese (it does not have to cover completely)
Top with small dollops of Ricotta cheese. Place pieces of fresh basil on top.
Sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Repeat this five times.
Top with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Bake in the oven until golden brown, hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve immediately or put in refrigerator to eat later.
This lasagna took a few hours to make but was easy.
Lasagna often takes best the second day. To reheat, put in a 350 degree oven and cook until heated through, about 30-40 minutes.
Find more recipes in the Food section.
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