I used to make my lasagna old school, starting with the sauce. As I only made sauce once a year I would make an entire lobster pot full. This meant about six hours of chopping, mincing, slicing and sautéing. Then the sauce would have to low simmer (so the bottom wouldn’t burn), covered for about 30 hours, then sit on the stove to cool for about another 10 to cool. After that came bagging and freezing, and no one was allowed to eat the sauce before it had been frozen.
For anyone who has made traditional lasagna, they know making the tray and then baking it also takes a good bit of time. So, when I found this recipe by Food 52…a one pot and done lasagna from the sauce up… I was eager to try it. My only disappointment, and this is one of those rare repeat recipes, was it was so good I only managed to eat half a bowl before the entire lasagna was gone.
Estimated Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes-1 hour 15 minutes (a)
Total Estimated Time: 1 hour-1 hour 35 minutes (a)
Estimated Servings: 9
Estimated Calories per Serving: 456
Helpful Kitchen Tools
Dutch Oven (or other heavy-bottomed, non-stick, large pot with a lid)
2 tbs Olive Oil
1 lb Hot Chicken or Pork Italian Sausage (I used chicken from Publix)
1 1/2 c Sweet Onion
4 Garlic Cloves
Generous pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 tsp Ground Oregano
1 tsp Dried Oregano
28 oz can Hunts San Marzano Whole, Peeled Plum Tomatoes
28 oz can Hunts Crushed (Basil) Tomatoes
2 28 oz cans Whole, Peeled Tomatoes
1 container Fresh Basil
1 sprig Basil, plus a handful of basil leaves
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
1 pinch Salt and Pepper
9 oz package No-Boil Lasagna (be sure of size)
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
4 oz Mascarpone or Cream Cheese (1/2 cup)
1 lb fresh Mozzarella (I used BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella, pre-sliced, from Publix)
1/2 lb fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced and patted dry
1. Chop the onion. Mince the garlic. Separate one sprig of basil, pluck the leaves, tearing up any larger pieces. Pluck the remaining leaves, tearing up any larger pieces and set aside. Pat the mozzarella dry, if needed, then slice into quarter inch rounds if you are not using precut.
2. Remove the casings from sausage (b)(c) and place in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown until cooked through, breaking meat apart as it cooks. Leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and ground oregano (c) to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened.
4. Reduce heat to medium low and pour the cans of tomatoes with their juices into the Dutch Oven, crushing the whole tomatoes (d). Return the sausage with any juices to the pot, along with the single sprig of torn basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover simmer for five minutes.
5. In the meantime, break the lasagna noodles in quarters (it’s fine if smaller pieces break off). Once the sauce is simmered, push each piece into the sauce, distributing as evenly as possible.
6. Cover the pan and gently simmer until the noodles are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 12 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally so the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
7. Dollop the mascarpone into the lasagna and swirl it into the sauce. Repeat until all the cheese has been incorporated. Push two thirds of the mozzarella into the sauce, distributing evenly, then place the remaining mozzarella and top. Cover and gently simmer for another two more minutes.
8. Remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle the remaining basil (to taste) across the top of the mozzarella.
9.Let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
This recipe is one of the few times I agree with my husband that it needs more cheese. The original recipe called for four ounces of mascarpone and eight ounces of mozzarella. Lasagna is a comfort food and, in my opinion, should reflect that in its ooey gooey melted cheesiness. So, I doubled the cheese across the board. And as much as I love ricotta cheese, using mascarpone as a replacement is an excellent choice. It has a slight smokiness that adds a little something to the overall dish.
I also added additional basil, because it’s a great way to get an extra burst of flavor. And while I will almost always choose pork over chicken, the lighter flavor of the chicken sausage works much better with this recipe.
Until this particular batch, which I didn’t tell anyone I was making, I have never managed to get more than a single bowl. I have scratched my head each time trying to figure out how I am the one making it but also getting the least amount of the finished dish before it is going, going, gone. This time, while I did give some away and both my husband and I enjoyed it piping hot, I vacuum sealed two bags (two servings each) for future meals.
While not as elegant as a traditional, layered lasagna, the freshness of this one pot dish, along with the very foreshortened prep and cook time, make it a clear winner. This fresh burst of flavors delivers every time I make it.
And on a final note, the sauce, with or without the sausage, is perfect for a stuffed shells, manicotti or pretty much anything else you might want to use it with. I have even made the sauce, sans sausage, for dipping when I make homemade calzones (use thin crust refrigerated; it’s easier to work with and gives a lighter, crisper crust).
Italic Ingredients and Directions were either omitted or altered.
Ingredient & Direction Notes
a. Cook time is dependent on prepping ahead or cooking it all at once. Prepping adds time as the food will be cold and take longer to come to temperature when heating the sauce, but it nicely breaks the time in the kitchen into shorter intervals.
b. As long as you watch it, there is no need to add oil to the pan as sausage naturally has a decent amount of oil and will seep out as it cooks down.
c. The sausage and onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and ground oregano can be prepared up to two days ahead of time and kept, together, in a sealed container in the fridge. To reduce heat up time, place the sealed container on the counter an hour before starting the remainder of the cooking.
d. Crushing the tomatoes by hand is the easiest, but a bit messy. This is how I always do it as it is quick and efficient. Otherwise, a potato masher or other mashing tool can be used.