Italian Sausage Lasagna with Fresh Mozzarella

Lasagna is a family favorite that is easy to make and great for serving a group. Also you can make it ahead so you can spend time with your family or guests. Fresh mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and a homemade sauce really make a big difference in the flavor of the lasagna.  Don’t cheat yourself by taking shortcuts.  Ingredient amounts serve 4 big appetites or 8 smaller appetites. Adjust ingredient amounts if you are serving a larger group.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons of olive oil divided
3/4 lb. of Italian sausage (mild, hot or sweet) casings removed
2 garlic cloves crushed through a garlic press
1 – 8 oz. package of button mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1 – 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
8 oz. of fresh mozzarella cheese sliced (about 15 slices) or more if desired
1 – 8 oz. package of oven ready lasagna noodles
4 cups of Easy Marinara Sauce or your favorite marinara sauce

Technique

Prepare Easy Marinara Sauce if using and let simmer while preparing the rest of the components. In a large skillet add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté mushrooms until they begin to release their liquid. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and tip pan slightly so the juices drain. Carefully soak up with a paper towel. Place mushrooms into a bowl and set a side. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan and brown sausage breaking up large pieces. Once brown, remove from heat and tip pan slightly so the juices drain. Carefully soak up with a paper towel. In an 8 inch by 8 inch pan and 2 inches deep baking dish add 1/2 cup of sauce to coat the bottom. Add 2 noodles, smear 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese over noodles, add 4 -5 slices of cheese breaking it up, add 2 tablespoons of mushrooms and top with 6 tablespoons of sausage and top with 1 cup of sauce. Repeat twice, but ending with 1 1/2 cups of sauce to the top. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour. The baking sheet is to protect your oven from sauce bubbling over. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting or it will be runny.

Suggested Beverage

Try Farnese Sangiovese (Italy),  Le Volte Red Wine of Toscana Super Tuscan (Italy), Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Veronese (Italy), or a Peroni beer.

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