Is there no more comforting meal during a chilly fall night to enjoy with friends than lasagna? This is an easy recipe that I made up with memories from my mother's recipe. She uses ground beef, but we are addicted to farmer's market pork sausage. You can use ground turkey but I suggest if you do that you add toasted fennel seeds, dried oregano and extra basil to flavor the meat.
Chop half a large onion and brown your sausage together. Don't salt. There is a ton of salt in the cheese.
Go snag some fresh basil from your neighbor's herb garden before the first freeze. Pile it up and chiffonade the babies. Meaning, roll the basil stack and slice it thin.
While you are in said neighbors garden snip some thyme as well.
Add the thyme and simply pull the leaves off the woody stem. You don't want to use the stem.
Here is the last minute trick. Many lasagnas call for ricotta cheese. You can substitute this for the following; cottage cheese, or a combination of cream cheese and sour cream. I have absolutely NO IDEA how I remember these things but I vaguely remember Momma subbing the cheesy mixture this way at Toad Hall. Toad Hall was Daddy's nickname for our childhood home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They had great parties. So much so that they left one weekend and friends showed up to party and they broke into the house and had the party without them. I think that sounds fun, but hey, it was the 1970s pre-Nellie and Macker. I will never be any where near as cool as my parents were in the 1970s. Ever.
The proportions are equal parts cream cheese, equal parts sour cream. You can use low fat. I don't think you loose flavor by doing so. We used South Mountain Creamery from the Waverly Farmer's Market. Then add about a half a cup of Parmesan cheese. This is the saltiest little cheese on earth, hence the reason you don't need to salt your meat mixture. Add the basil and mix together. Do not taste it. It is gross and will freak you out. I know this because I tasted it and was convinced the meal would be ruined. But somehow it works all melded together with the sauce.
I used four jars of my Stone Hill Farm Holy Tomato Sauce. Pour over the meat mixture once it is browned. This is equivalent to about two large 24 ounce sauce jars.
Spread the sauce on the bottom of a pretty casserole dish.
Layer cooked noodles. I still have yet to use no bake noodles. I'm a traditionalist. Then layer the cheese mixture, more sauce, noodles and repeat. Sprinkle fresh mozzarella on the top with Parmesan. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbling. When you take it out of the oven let it rest for 20-30 minutes. It will stay super hot and the layers will actually stay together in perfect sections.
Invite friends over and enjoy.
We love our Stone Hill neighbors and use any excuse to have a dinner party.
The Zenia's in the garden have overtaken the bird bath this fall. I'll be sad to see them go as they are on their last leggy legs.
Thank you Momma and Daddy for being such cooks and for the memories of dinner parties at Toad Hall. I remember you all singing at the piano while I sat and listened at the top of the stairs. And thank you Lord for our beautiful, beautiful Zenia crops this year. Amen! Thanks also to the mystery nominator for the Mobbie's in the Baltimore Sun.