Happy Monday everyone! I spent most of my time since Friday shoveling snow and I cannot stop saying that I’m ready for spring! Thankfully we are mid-way through February and hopefully on to warmer temperatures. We are also at the point in the month that I know a lot of the ladies love: Valentine’s Day! My husband and I have never really put a lot of emphasis on this day but we do enough a nice, quiet meal together at home that we cook together. (Not that I’d complain about some surprise flowers or something…ah-hem) Since I’m out of town this week we celebrated over the weekend by making Sausage & Meatball Lasagna together!
Making Italian food together is one thing that we really enjoy doing as a couple. People are always surprised at how often we make homemade pasta but once you know how to do it, it really is simple. For this recipe you can also use prepared fresh sheets of pasta. I would advise par-cooking them before layering the lasagna.
I know that this dish seems like it might involve a lot of steps but it’s really a rewarding dish to make for your sweetheart or together! Simmering the sauce with red wine really adds a lot of flavor to the sauce and the extra touch of pancetta takes the flavor for an entirely new level. I used a mild Italian sausage for layering but if you like things a little spicy you can do a mixture of both hot and mild or go entirely hot!
This lasagna is best served with a side of crusty bread and of course, wine. You need to open a bottle anyway to prepare the sauce and there’s no sense in wasting wine! You can easily prepare the pan of lasagna tonight or tomorrow and then cut your slices on Wednesday night to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetie and reheat them at 350°F for around 30-40 minutes.
Love is in the air this week and even if you don’t have a significant other you can certainly share this recipe with friends and family!
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 2 large cloves minced garlic
- 8 ounces pancetta, diced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups good red wine, preferably Italian
- 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- ¾ pound ground sirloin
- ¼ cup freshly grated pecorino Romano
- 2 eggs
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves only, washed and dried
- 2 large whole cloves garlic
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
- FOR THE LASAGNA:
- 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 2 cups freshly grated pecorino Romano
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 pound mozzarella, grated
- 16 sheets fresh lasagna noodles
- For the sauce, heat ½ cup oil in a large heavy Dutch oven or kettle over low heat. Add the onions, minced garlic and pancetta, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft.. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Raise heat slightly, add the wine and cook until it is mostly reduced, about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes into the pan along with the tomato paste. Simmer for 1 hour.
- For the meatballs combine the sirloin, cheese and eggs in a large bowl. Chop the parsley with the whole garlic until fine, then stir into the beef mixture. Season well with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix until all the ingredients are well blended. Shape into meatballs and set aside and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for 1 hour.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, pecorino Romano, parsley and all but 1 cup of the mozzarella. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- When you're ready to assemble the lasagna, cook the sausage, breaking up into small bits, until no longer pink. Drain and set aside.
- Remove the meatballs from the sauce, and set aside to cool slightly, then chop coarsely.
- Spoon a thick layer of sauce into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch lasagna pan. Cover with a layer of noodles. Spoon additional sauce on top, then add a third of the meat and a third of the cheese mixture. Repeat for 2 more layers, using all the meat and cheese. Top with a layer of noodles, and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle reserved mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake 40-50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.