Thoughtless Thursday: Lasagna Now and Later
Okay so my last several attempts for a Thoughtless Thursday post have just not turned out. I seem to be without a brain lately. Well this is my third day home sick, so I’m determined to monitor things to make sure everything is either COOKED or not burned. Since hubby finally had lasagna and liked it (many thanks Jackie!), I’ve been itching to make some more (did I mention I LOVE lasagna?). Someone, somewhere in the last two weeks mentioned making them in mini-loaves and I thought that was a fabulous idea. I actually decided to try making mini-loaves in the crock pot and making a more traditional lasagna for the freezer, so this is a Now and Later dish. Hmm, maybe I should start a thing with Now and Later here at P and P. Anyway, this will result in two (no actually four–the mini loaves made more than I realized) individual servings of lasagna for now and a 9×9 lasagna for your freezer. It’s a multi-step prep, (something good to do on a weekend) but well worth the end result. Definitely a fitting return to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Haalo my favorite Cook (Almost) Anything.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage
- 1 15-16 oz. container of part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan, Feta or a combination of both
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 16 oz. package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
- 3 medium zucchini, diced
- baby bella mushrooms (if you like)
- 1 jar of your favorite tomato based pasta sauce (I used Classico Spicy Tomato and Basil with this one)–I recommend springing for something a bit nicer than Prego or Ragu
- 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 8 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
You will also need:
- 1 6 quart crock pot
- 2 mini loaf pans (mine are something like 3″x8″ or so)
- 1 9×9 pyrex baking dish
- aluminum foil
- Plug in your crock pot and go ahead and turn it to high to preheat.
- Meanwhile, remove the sausage from its casing and brown it over medium high heat in a large skillet.
- In a separate bowl, mix the parmesan, feta, ricotta, and egg.
- Add the spinach to the cheese mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Once the sausage is browned, drain and rinse it in a colandar.
- Toss the zucchini in the skillet and saute in the remaining drippings from the sausage. If you need to, drizzle a little olive oil in.
- Add the sausage back to the skillet.
- Add the tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and mix well.
- Spray each of your mini loaf pans with cooking spray.
- Carefully break your noodles to fit and layer them on the bottom.
- Add a layer of meat sauce.
- If you’re adding mushrooms, now is the time to add them. Don’t put them in the one you’ll be putting in the freezer, as they don’t freeze well.
- Add a layer of the cheese/spinach mixture.
- Repeat with noodles, meat sauce, cheese mixture.
- Top with a handful of mozzarella cheese. If you’re like me then it’s probably above the lip of the loaf pan by now.
- Place the first loaf pan in the bottom of the crock.
- Take two long sheets of aluminum foil and wad them up so that they’re a bit taller than the loaf pan. Stuff on either side of the loaf pan.
- Stack the second loaf pan on top of the aluminum foil. It shouldn’t be touching the bottom loaf pan.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
- Now, moving on to the Later portion of the dish. Make a double layer of foil and carefully press into the 9×9 pan. Spray with cooking spray.
- Repeat the noodles, meat sauce, cheese mixture layering until you’re out of meat sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Carefully close up the aluminum foil.
- Pop the lasagna in the freezer inside the dish.
- Once it’s frozen, remove from the dish.
- Whenever you’re ready to eat this, you’ll want to take it out of the freezer, put it back in the dish you used as a mold and thaw in the fridge for a couple of days. Then bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes (you’ll need to use the finger in the middle test to make sure it’s done), opening the foil for the last 15 minutes or so to make sure the cheese on top gets all nice and melty, and slightly golden.