How very... unnecessary

"I brought you a lasagne." He held out the dish. 

She rolled her eyes heavenward. "How very.... unnecessary."


So, I know, I know, I already made the shepherd's pie. I've done my recipe from A Girl Like Her. But the problem is, I think, in my mind at least, that Evan more frequently makes lasagne. There's definitely quotes about how everyone likes lasagne. And while I haven't reread Damaged Goods recently I'm pretty sure he shows up with a lasagne in that too. And I called the post "The Disastrous Lasagne Deal."

Therefore, in the spirit of Evan's being so "very... unnecessary," I too shall be unnecessary. Evan's lasagne is probably traditional. I'm guessing it's got meat, cuz he also makes like, shepherd's pie and spaghetti bolognese. But who knows? Maybe not. Maybe it's different each time. Lasagne is infinitely adaptable, after all. So, I did not make a traditional lasagne. I got it in my head to make a lasagne with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe. So that's what I did.

I started with making ricotta, using the same recipe I did for my The Cake is a Lie cake post two weeks ago, available here

I also made tomato sauce from another Smitten Kitchen recipe, available here.  As she notes at the end, you can use pureed tomatoes, I used diced tomatoes. Whatever you have will work. 

Finally, I made homemade noodles, using a new recipe specifically meant for lasagna noodles, but I did not like it and had to adapt it on the fly cuz it didn't feel right at all. They came out fine, but since I had to mess with it on the fly if you want to make homemade pasta, I beg of you, please use the recipe I posted in The Cake is a Lie, and linked here. Roll the pasta thin enough that you can see your hand through it. I should also mention that that recipe recommends using a stand mixer to bring the dough together, but I do it by hand. It's not a lot of work and I like making dough by hand. There is just something so lovely about the way it goes from scraggly to smooth as you work it out. Also, it's how you learn so that when you try a new recipe you know it's not right and can fix it before you destroy your beautiful lasagne. 

You could buy all these things pre-made, but obviously I'm not going to do that, because I am insane and also because they're lovely and tasty homemade so why not? But it takes a bit longer this way so I won't judge if you buy it. It's not like it's a birthday cake or anything. 

Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Lasagne 

2 cups ricotta (this is an estimate- I didn't remember to measure- one recipe of the above works perfectly)
Tomato sauce (one jar or, again, recipe above works perfectly)
Lasagna noodles
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 lb Italian sausage meat
1 cup red wine 
3 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
1 egg
8oz shredded mozzarella (I used a pre-shredded 8oz bag)
8oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (You could get 16oz of fresh mozzarella, as I did, and shred half and slice half if you think this through in advance, which I did not)
1/4 cup or so of shredded parmesan 

If you're doing your components from scratch, do ricotta first and just let it keep draining, then sauce, and while that's simmering away, make pasta dough. While the dough rests, do the following:

Preheat over to 350ºF.

Chop the broccoli rabe. I was told that my final lasagne was too chunky with the broccoli rabe, so chop the stem bits especially a bit more finely than I did if you don't like chunky veggies in yours. 

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and dump in your broccoli rabe. Cook it for about two minutes, just until it's all bright green and lovely, and pull it out. I didn't bother blanching with an ice bath or anything and it was fine, so I wouldn't worry about that nonsense if I were you. 

In a large pan, brown the sausage, add the garlic and a few healthy pinches of red pepper flakes, if you want a bit of flavor. Add the red wine and cover to simmer for a few minutes. Add some of the tomato sauce right to the meat and let that simmer for a few minutes too. None of this was from a recipe and I did a poor job of tracking the time, but none of it was very long. Once you've got a nice thick meaty sauce, turn off the heat. 

Mix your shredded cheeses with the ricotta and the egg. (If you didn't make your ricotta fresh, you could do this before you start with the veggie/meat prep.) 

If you're making your own pasta, roll the noodles out and cut them up here. 

Put a little of the plain tomato sauce on the bottom of your dish. Layer noodles. Then layer cheese, meat sauce, and broccoli rabe. I added a little more tomato sauce with the broccoli rabe as well. Repeat the layers until you've filled your dish or run out of ingredients. Top with the sliced mozzarella and shred a little more parmesan over the top. 

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes. 

If you like your cheese browned and bubbly, like I do, turn on the broiler and let it sit for just a few minutes. Keep your eye on it so it gets browned and bubbly but not burnt. Alternatively, take the foil off earlier, but I didn't test that, so at your own peril. 

Let sit for about 10 minutes before you dig in and/or divvy up to share with friends and neighbors. 

For the record, I definitely share with friends and family. 


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