Everyone loves lasagna but this small variation for Beef and Sausage Pesto Lasagna turns a predictable dish into a little something special.
There are definitely a few steps involved in making lasagna but it can be completely prepared in advance, left in the fridge for a day before cooking or even frozen. It travels well and can feed a big crowd so what’s not to like about that? Make some with a friend over a bottle of wine and it might just be a fun project with a delicious ending.
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Pesto Lasagna by the Layer
THE NOODLE LAYER
The invention of no-cook lasagna noodles makes this layered dish easier to assemble and saves a pot, something every cook and dishwasher loves.
Despite the package directions to precook the noodles I use Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles and I do not precook them. I use them right out of the box and my lasagna turns out perfect every time. I have prepared this lasagna by cooking it immediately after assembly and also leaving it in the fridge overnight before cooking. Both methods have the same delicious result. I recall reading that there is a reaction between the noodles and the tomatoes so I have not yet tried doing this with a seafood lasagna or any recipe without a tomato-based sauce.
THE MEAT SAUCE LAYER
I like the combination of beef and Italian sausage. The addition of olives add a salty bite but omit them if you must. I know not everyone has learned to love olives yet.
The drier, smooth ricotta cheese is Italian and some people think it is essential in lasagna. Cottage cheese is lumpier and juicier. Depending on what cheese your mother used in her lasagna you probably have an idea of which cheese is correct. When you are the cook you get to choose. Decide which taste and texture you prefer and go with that.
Adding pesto sauce to the soft cheese is a pleasant surprise. Adjust the amount to your own taste.
And then there is the parmesan. Real parmesan. When it comes to parmesan cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano is the premium grating cheese that comes from the province of Parma, Italy and surrounding area. It is not inexpensive but it is definitely worth trying. Grana Padano is its’ less expensive cousin, also delicious and readily available for me. You could compare the two over a bottle of Italian red wine while discussing the finer points of Italian cheese and lasagna.
If you buy pre-grated parmesan cheese be sure to read the label. Some of these packages are food-like products with an ingredient list. I am always trying to choose more real foods and less food-like products. You decide if it is time to use real cheese.
To assemble the lasagna I always use a cheat sheet. This is simply a piece of paper where I have written out the layers in order so I can easily assemble my dish. My somewhat cryptic note is for two layers of each ingredient and it reads:
- ½ Meat sauce / Noodles / ½ Pesto cheese mix / ½ Mozza / ½ Parm
If you prefer your lasagna thicker you can increase the recipe by half and make three layers of each ingredient. The thickness will also vary depending on the exact size of your pan. I prefer a glass lasagna pan at least 9-inches x 13-inches in size. This way I can cut in the pan with a knife (can’t do that in metal). I also like a pan with fairly square sides so I end up with nice high pieces.
Whether you are planning an après-ski dinner or a family gathering try this Beef and Sausage Pesto Lasagna and don’t even point out the fact that it’s gluten free.
Let me know in the comments below how yours turned out.
|12 oz ground beef|
|12 oz Italian sausage, casing removed|
|12 oz mushrooms, sliced|
|1 medium onion, chopped|
|1 green pepper, chopped|
|2 cloves garlic, minced|
|28-oz can diced tomatoes|
|½ cup kalamata olives, chopped|
|1 bay leaf|
|6-oz can tomato paste (I use 156 ml can)|
|1 cup basil pesto (I use 218 ml jar)|
|2 cups cottage cheese or ricotta cheese|
|8-10 brown rice lasagna noodles|
|1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated|
|½ cup grated parmesan cheese|
- MEAT SAUCE
- Cook ground beef, sausage, mushrooms, onion, green pepper and garlic in large pot over medium heat, until onion is translucent and meat is cooked. About 15 minutes. Drain off fat if desired.
- Add tomatoes, olives, bay leaf and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over medium heat then decrease heat and simmer 45 minutes. Discard bay leaf and set aside.
- In a bowl combine cottage cheese and pesto sauce. Set aside.
- In a large baking pan layer the ingredients as follows:
- Half the meat sauce
- 4-5 noodles
- pesto cheese mixture
- parmesan cheese
- repeat layers
- At this point the lasagna can be cooked, refrigerated overnight or frozen.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook lasagna for 45 minutes or until golden on top and bubbly around the edges. Cut and serve.