Mainstay Signature Chicken Sausage Lasagna

From-scratch lasagna was my first personal goal when I started learning to cook. It was the first intimidating dish I attempted, and I was thrilled when it turned out better than expected.

Fast forward about a decade, and my homemade lasagna is the dish people request when I volunteer for meal trains. It’s so popular, I’ve used it as a negotiating point: “I’ll make you a lasagna if you’ll weed my garden bed.” I don’t even have a photo of the finished product for this post, because it’s always eaten so quickly once it comes out of the oven. One person has even given me the nickname Lasagna Lisa.

So basically, this is another of my signature dishes. I debated keeping the recipe to myself, but it’s so good, it’s worth sharing. Especially in the fall, when we’re all craving hearty comfort food like lasagna.

Don’t let homemade lasagna intimidate you. The most difficult part is assembly, which is really just a matter of layering prepared ingredients on top of each other.

Tip: Yes, you can substitute plain ground chicken, turkey, or beef. But the sausage does something very special to the flavor profile. And while you can use whichever sausage is your personal favorite, I consider Isernio’s to be the Secret Ingredient that makes this dish what it is!

Mainstay Signature Chicken Sausage Lasagna
(Original recipe: Ina Garten)

2 TBSP olive oil
1 C onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb Italian chicken sausage (we prefer Isernio’s Mild Chicken Sausage)
28 oz crushed tomatoes in puree
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 C fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
8 oz lasagna noodles
15 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1-1/4 C grated Parmesan, divided
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (shredded works, as well)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 TBSP of the parsley, basil, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit
in the water for 20 minutes. Drain. (This will keep them from drying out while they bake in the oven.)

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the
remaining 2 TBSP of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

In a 9×12 baking dish, ladle 1/3 of the sauce and spread it over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and 1/3 of the sauce. (Note: make sure all the pasta is covered in sauce and/or cheese to keep it from drying out in the oven.) Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

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