You don’t need hours to make amazing lasagna. This simplified classic lasagna recipe calls on flavorful sausage, a light homemade tomato sauce, and fresh basil. The sausage is pre-seasoned and spiced, which adds lots of extra favor to the sauce. Use pork, chicken or turkey sausage to make this. Or use your favorite ground meat such as beef, lamb, turkey or chicken. For a vegetarian version, take a look at our easy vegetable lasagna recipe or swap the sausage in this recipe for 3 to 4 cups of your favorite vegetables.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sausage or ground meat
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, chopped small (3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
One (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, 1 heaping cup
One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Generous handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
14 lasagna noodles (2 extra for filling in holes), see notes
One (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
2 large eggs
2 ounces (60 grams) parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
8 ounces (230 grams) low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet with tall sides (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.
If the sausage is in link form, remove the casings by cutting a slit down each sausage and pull the casing away from the meat.
Add the sausage meat (without casings) to the pan, and then use a wooden spoon to break the meat apart. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate.
If, after removing the sausage, more than 2 tablespoons of rendered fat is at the bottom of the pan, remove it so only about 2 tablespoons remains.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt then cook for one minute more.
Add the roasted red peppers, crushed tomatoes, and cooked sausage. Bring to a low simmer and cook until the liquid has thickened and reduced by one third, about 10 minutes. Add the basil and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. (We end up adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt.)
Move onto making the lasagna or transfer the sauce to a glass container and refrigerate up to 3 days.
If using no-boil or fresh noodles, there is no need to cook them. For regular/classic noodles, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. (We add a couple teaspoons of olive oil to the water so the noodles do not stick together). Drain then lay flat on a sheet of aluminum foil.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Add the ricotta cheese to a medium bowl, and then taste it for seasoning. If it seems under seasoned, add a pinch of salt. Stir in the eggs and a pinch of fresh ground black pepper.
Spoon just enough meat sauce into the baking dish to lightly cover the bottom (about 1 cup). Arrange three to four noodles lengthwise and side by side to cover the bottom. (If the noodles are short on one end, you may need to cut an extra noodle and place into the dish to cover where the other noodles have not).
Spread about half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with a third of the parmesan cheese and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Top with a third of the meat sauce.
Add another layer of noodles then repeat with remaining cheese and sauce. Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes, uncover then bake 15 minutes until the cheese is crusty around the edges.
For a golden brown top, slide the lasagna under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.
Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.