Sunday, January 8, 2012

The 18 Pound Lasagna

This lasagna could qualify to be an entire island on Dinner Plan-it!  It weighed 18 pounds!

The orbit here on Dinner Plan-it has been flying pretty high in calorie, fat and all those bad-for-you categories lately....but they're so good when they're so bad! And, like some of you - maybe - I'm going to start flying at a little more sensible, healthy altitude.  Okay, the real sensibility starts tomorrow right here on the blog because you have to have the lasagna recipe from yesterday's family gathering!

If you don't want to indulge in something this rich right now, save it for after you've been good for a know, an occasional treat.  Or, cut some of the fat and calories by using half the sausage and making it turkey Italian sausage instead. Increase the amount of spinach, use low-fat mozzarella, whole wheat lasagna noodles, substitute low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese for the ricotta (give it a whirl in the blender so it's smooth) and use Egg Beaters in place of whole eggs...finally, leave off the pepperoni!  The light(er) version still has all the flavor without all the fat and calories of my original recipe.  Geez, I should have made it that way for the family!  Of course, to make this gluten-free, all you have to do is use gluten-free lasagna noodles.

Although there will be lighter recipes for a while (I'm trying SO hard to eat more sensibly), don't expect Dinner Plan-it to go all ridiculously, grimly, boringly austere.  That AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!  We'll just share some interestingly delicious dishes that will just happen to be a little better for the heart and the waistline....with some good old regular recipes thrown in for when you NEED (i.e., I need!) to splurge!

The 18-Pound Lasagna!
(including the pan, of course) 
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 24-ounce jars spaghetti sauce, I like Classico Spicy Basil
  • 1 bag fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounce wedge parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 pounds mozzarella cheese, grated - I highly suggest buying the already grated....I almost burned out the motor of my food processor and who has time to do it by hand...really.
  • 5 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds lasagna noodles, I love the no-cook variety! (use gluten-free lasagna noodles to make this GF)
  • pepperoni

Brown sausage, drain and add drained and spinach.  Then add ONE jar of sauce.  Set aside.
Mix ricotta, 1/2 of the parmesan, 3/4 of the mozzarella, egg and lots of pepper.  Mix well.  Set aside.
Assemble.  Spray your lasagna pan well with olive oil, spoon some of the sauce (from the sauce from the remaining jar) into the bottom of the pan and coat bottom.  
Then place a layer of noodles, top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture spreading evenly over, then 1/3 of the meat sauce.  Make 2 more layers like this and then add another noodle layer.  Top with plain sauce from the jar and then the leftover shredded mozzarella and leftover parmesan.  Top it all with pepperoni slices like you would a pizza...does this make the dish pizzagna?
Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes; uncover and bake until beautifully browned and bubbly.  Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting so it will stay together nicely.

Hard to tell from this pic, but this of lasagna is a full 5" high. Yes, I have a HELL of a lasagna pan!

NOTE: For the lighter version, make these substitutions:
  • 1 1/2 pounds sausage = 3/4 pound turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese = 1 1/2 pounds cottage cheese (smoothed in a blender)
  • 1 bag spinach = 1 1/2 - 2 bags of fresh spinach
  • mozzarella = low-fat or fat-free mozzarella
  • eggs = Egg Beaters 
  • lasagna noodles = whole wheat lasagna noodles (again, use gluten-free noodles to make this GF)

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