Making the Sauce: The bulk of your time making the lasagna is actually just making the sauce itself; it takes a bit of patience. A proper tomato sauce needs to simmer for at least a couple hours – the longer the better . A proper tomato sauce is only made of a few ingredients, but it is the quality of the ingredients that dictates the flavour… beginning with the tomatoes. If you don’t can your own tomatoes in the late summer like the old Italian family on your street does, choose canned Italian San Marzano tomatoes. They tend to be incredibly sweet with very low acidity. A proper tomato sauce is remarkably simple, but if you would like to save some time we recommend using an Olivieri branded tomato sauce. This sauce recipe is loosely based off my mothers. You’ll notice that I don’t add garlic. That’s just the way I grew up with it. Garlic can be added if you wish. You should also notice that there is no basil explicitly in the recipe. This is because the tomatoes that I buy are canned along with some basil. I find this gives it sufficient pungency.
Give your onion a quick, coarse dice. You can chop it finer if you like your sauce more homogeneous. I prefer a thick hearty sauce. Throw these into a fairly large sauce pot along with a couple glugs of olive oil. Fry on high until soft and translucent.
Throw in your ground sausage. Use a flat-bottomed, wooden spoon to break it up just as we did when we made our chilli and our cheeseburger soup. Keep frying on high until it’s nicely browned.
. Dump in your tomatoes, tomato puree and oregano. Mix that all together. Let the mixture come to a boil then turn the temperature right down to low. We want to let this simmer on low for a few hours. Like I said before, the longer the better. Don’t season with salt right away; let the flavours from all the components come together first. I recommend checking for salt after at least an hour. I don’t usually add black pepper, but you can if you want to. That’s it! Remember to stir it periodically so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. TIP: You have a lot of options when making a sauce. That is why every family’s and every restaurant’s sauce is unique. The common factor for the successful ones is quality ingredients. The rest is up to you, but remember: keep it simple . The Bacon 4. There’s a lot of bacon, so I decided to bake it. You could fry it if you wanted to. To do this, line a baking sheet (or two) with aluminum foil. Lay your bacon down in a single layer on the foil. Put the bacon into a COLD oven. Set your oven to 400°F, your timer to 17 minutes, go grab a beer and have a seat in front of the TV. Once it’s your timer goes off, remove the bacon to a plate lined with some paper towel and set it aside for later. I wonder why don’t bake it all the time… Making the filling: 5. Dump your spinach into a pot of boiling water. Remove it after a couple minutes. We just want to blanche it. Mix it together with your ricotta cheese, Pecorino Romano, nutmeg, and egg. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Easy enough? Assembly: The key to a great lasagna is thin, thin pasta, and lots of layers. I sometimes see lasagna on TV with a thick pasta sheet on the bottom, a thick pasta sheet on top, and one, maybe two, sheets of thick pasta in the middle. It is then stuffed with WAY too much crap between the layers. Remember what I said earlier? Quality ingredients and simplicity is key . Keep your layers thin, but make lots of them. Not only will the lasagna taste better, it will hold together better, too.
First, preheat your oven to 375°F.
If you’re using fresh pasta, you only need to boil it for a couple minutes. If you’re using dry pasta, cook it according to those instructions on the box. Once you think the pasta is cooked, toss the sheets a bit of oil so they don’t get stuck together (I forgot to do this, oops!) 8 . In your dish, put a little bit of your sauce down. We do this so the pasta doesn’t stick to the dish. You just need a little bit.
Put a single layer of pasta down. Good so far?
. Apply a layer of your ricotta and spinach mixture. Spread it evenly over the pasta. Again, keep it thin… think layers.
. Add a little bit more of your meat sauce. We don’t want to add too much or else the lasagna will come out watery and will not hold together.
. BACON LAYER! WOOH! Throw them strips down!
. Mozzarella layer. Be liberal here. Cheesy lasagna is good lasagna. I recommend buying whole mozzarella balls and shredding it yourself. The pre-shredded stuff is always dry and doesn’t melt anywhere near as good as if you shred it at home.
. Add another layer of pasta, then the ricotta, then the bacon, then the cheese. Repeat until your dish is full. I think I got 5 or 6 layers. The overall product is fairly thick, but the individual layers are, again, nice and thin.
. Once you’ve reached the top of your casserole dish, add a final layer of pasta, a bit of sauce then more mozzarella and some grated Pecorino Romano.
. Cover your beast with aluminum foil such that the foil doesn’t actually touch the top layer. If it does, it will stick like nobody’s business. Throw this into the oven for 25 minutes. Once you can see it’s bubbling up the sides of the casserole, it’s done. Take the foil off the top and place it under the broiler until the top is nice and golden.
. So we can dig in now, right? NO!!! You MUST wait. If you serve it right out of the oven, the lasagna will fall apart and it will be a disaster. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. The layers will meld together and it will be absolutely beautiful. NOW you can stuff your face.