Decadent Veggie Sausage Lasagne













It takes some time to assemble these unctuous layers, but when you see the response of your fans, er, family, you'll see that it's worth the effort.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time:  50 minutes
Serves:  8-10

INGREDIENTS
1 box (16 ounces) whole wheat lasagna noodles
Olive oil
1 large zucchini squash, 1/4 inch dice (about 3 cups)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large onion, 1/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 sweet bell peppers, 1/4 inch dice (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage
1 tub (32 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
3-4 cups marinara sauce
1 large ripe tomato, 1/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
Heat water in a large stock pot for the lasagne noodles.  Bring the ricotta out of the fridge to warm, to make it easier to spread.

While water is heating, cook the sausage and the vegetables.  In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the sausage for 8 minutes, turning, or until done.  Set aside to cool.  Drain excess fat and replace with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute summer squash with garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until squash is tender crisp, then scoop squash out to a plate or bowl.  Add the onion, peppers, rosemary and sage and, if necessary, a little more olive oil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, or until peppers are tender crisp.  Chop sausage into chunks 1/4-1/2 inch in size.

When water reaches a boil, cook the lasagna noodles for 6 minutes or until al dente.  Drain in a colander, place noodles in a mixing bowl, and toss gently with some olive oil to prevent sticking.

While pasta is cooking,  place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and stir in the basil.  Preheat the oven to 350.

Set out a large (10" x 14" or equivalent) baking dish, and spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce across the bottom in a thin layer.  Arrange a layer of noodles, in parallel touching rows, across the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle half of the zucchini evenly across the noodles, followed by half of the peppers and onions and half of the sausage.  Carefully spread half of the ricotta and basil across the vegetables. Top with 1 cup of the marinara sauce, half  of the chopped tomato, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Repeat this layer, starting with another layer of noodles.  Top your lasagna with a final layer of noodles.  Spread with the remaining sauce, being sure to fill in along the edges.  Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan.

Tent your lasagna with aluminum foil (do your best to not touch the surface with the foil) and slide in to the oven on the center rack.  Cook for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Serve with a tossed salad and a good Chianti.

Variation:  Omit the sausage for a vegetarian dish.


Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick





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