For birthday celebrations and back-to-school dinners, this is our go-to family meal. It’s a creamy, rich lasagna without much effort or mess. That’s why we call it “weeknight lasagna.” You can make it even faster (and meatless) by eliminating the sausage. Then just pop open a jar of store-bought tomato sauce, open a box of no-cook noodles and 15 minutes later you’re ready to pop this in the oven.
There’s really only one extra step to this recipe: Egg and milk is added to the ricotta, which makes it easier to spread. I sometimes use a simple, homemade tomato sauce, such as Marcella Hazan’s recipe. Or you can use store bought Rao’s Homemade Marina as a super easy alternative.
I prefer lasagna noodles that are completely flat, without ruffled edges. Use gluten-free lasagna sheets if you’d like — I recommend Cappellos brand.
To top it off, grate your own mozzarella for a creamier texture and better flavor. Pre-grated cheese is coated with powder that prevents the cheese from sticking together (and also melting well).
While that fantastic smelling lasagna is tucked in the oven, toss up a salad and pour yourself a glass of wine. Dinner is done, and you didn’t even break a sweat.
Weeknight Lasagna with Parmesan-Ricotta and Italian Sausage
- 1 ½ pounds mild Italian sausage
- 1 15- ounce container part-skim ricotta
- ¼ cup milk skim, low-fat or whole will work
- 1 egg
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan reserve ¼ cup
- 5 cups tomato-basil sauce I prefer Rao’s Homemade Marina Sauce
- 1 pound lasagna noodles regular, whole wheat or gluten-free
- 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella grated or sliced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces, until browned. Drain any fat from the pan and set aside.
- In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, milk, egg and ¾ cup parmesan.
- In a 9x13 baking dish, spread 1 cup tomato sauce. Cover with a single layer of noodles without overlapping them. Spread on a third of the ricotta mixture, another cup of the sauce and top with a third of the sautéed sausage. Add two more layers of noodles, ricotta, sauce and sausage. Top with a final layer of noodles, remaining sauce, the mozzarella and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Be sure the top layer of noodles is fully covered with sauce (if any edges are peeking out uncovered, they will be crispy instead of soft).
- Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes in the middle of the oven, until bubbly and golden brown on the edges. If the cheese starts to get too brown, cover the pan with foil during baking. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.
- Note: Lasagna can be assembled and frozen before baking. Place in refrigerator the night before you plan to bake.