(Lasagna, Estilo Mami)
Tomato Sauce for Pasta
- 2 ½ pounds sweet Italian sausage (or if you can find it,longaniza; see below)
- 1 medium eggplant (about 20 ounces), stemmed, peeled, and sliced 1/2 inch
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable cooking spray
- Two 1-pound boxes curly-edge lasagna noodles
- Splash of olive oil
- 2 pounds mozzarella cheese, preferably whole milk, shredded
- One 3-pound container ricotta cheese
- 2 cups grated parmesan, manchego or zamorano cheese
Makes 8 Daisy servings or 12 regular servings
Make the tomato sauce.
While the tomato sauce is cooking, remove the sausage from its casing and crumble the meat into a large skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook, breaking up any large clumps with a fork, until browned and sizzling, about 10 minutes. Drain the fat from the browned sausage meat.
When the tomato sauce is done, ladle off 4 cups and reserve to pass at the table. Stir the browned sausage meat into the remaining sauce and simmer 15 minutes.
Toss the eggplant slices together with a generous amount of salt in a bowl. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
Pat the eggplant slices dry. Spray a large heavy non-stick skillet with vegetable spray and heat over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant slices in batches until soft. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the oil. Slip in the lasagna noodles and cook, stirring gently to keep the lasagna from sticking, for 3 to 4 minutes less than package directions state. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray the bottom of an 11 x 9 x 2 ½ inch deep lasagna pan with cooking spray, then ladle in enough plain sauce to paint the bottom of the pan. You will be making 4 layers with your ingredients (except for 5 layers of lasagna and grated parmesan), so make each layer accordingly. Don’t worry if there’s a slight difference between layers, just don’t run out of anything half way through. Make a layer of lasagna noodles that covers the bottom of the pan, overlapping them slightly. Cover with a layer of meat sauce, sprinkle the grated cheese over the sauce and place eggplant slices randomly over the cheese. Dot with ricotta, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella. Repeat the process 4 times (or as much as your pan allows) and top with the last layer of pasta. Sprinkle any remaining parmesan cheese over the top. Cover loosely with foil and bake 1 hour. Remove from the oven let set 1 to 2 hours.
To serve: Heat gently for about 30 minutes in a preheated 300° F oven until a knife inserted into the center feels warm. Just before serving, reheat the reserved tomato sauce and pass separately at the table.