This recipe serves 6-8 meat-eater people with good appetite.
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound raw Italian sausage without casing
1 cup minced carrots
1 quart spaghetti sauce
30 ounces ricotta cheese
6-10 turns of the mill freshly ground black pepper
6-9x13 square inch fresh rolled pasta
½ cup parmesan cheese
Additional olive oil to brush your 9x13 baking pan – something that should not take knife marks, I suggest, and more to drizzle on top.
Step 1: Get That Pig on the Stove and Sneak in the Vegetable
Do use a heavy-bottomed pan for this purpose: heat olive oil on medium high heat on the stove and brown the sausage meat using a wooden spoon to help break the sausage apart. Add carrots and stir. Pour in all the spaghetti sauce and stir. Let simmer until bubbly boiling – stirring often to prevent scorching and erupting (you wouldn’t want to try how it feels to have hot spaghetti sauce on the back of your hand unless you like being poked with a live cigarette…). Set aside.
Step 2: Make the Ricotta Sauce
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together with a spatula (or a spooning spatula, if you prefer; you are going to use the utensil to spread the mixture on the pasta sheets): ricotta cheese, eggs, and pepper. Stir until blended. The mixture should look all white. Set aside.
Step 3: A Good Start
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the pan with the additional olive oil – you really only need 1 tablespoon of it – even if your pan says non-stick (unless you find it fun to scrub and scour good lasagna sauces off of your dirty pan instead of moving on to the tiramisu and the chocolate-coated pizzeles and that authentic spumoni gelato…).
Step 4: Building a Good Base
Ladle just enough of the Italian sausage mixture to form a thin layer to base the pan for upcoming pasta sheets.
Step 5: First You Need the First Layer...
Lay the first pasta sheet on top of it. Spread one quarter of remainder of the Italian sausage mixture on that first sheet.
Step 6: And Then the Second...
Lay the second pasta sheet on top of it. Spread one quarter of the ricotta mixture on that second sheet.
Step 7: One Utensil, Several Functions
Repeat the same alternating process with the remainder pasta sheets. You should have the last one quarter of the ricotta cheese mixture and one quarter of Italian sausage mixture both on the top sheet. Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese. Make sure to use every bit of the sauces - that's really how your pan should look when you are done with the layers.
Step 8: Final Cooking Process
Drizzle the top of lasagna with two tablespoons of olive oil. Bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes. Carefully take pan out of the oven - yes, I mean you need good functioning oven mitts. Wait five minutes before cutting into 8 even portions (no, don't make me draw the cutting sketch for you.) Serve using a wide heatproof spatula. Aren't those layers a beauty?
Step 9: Words of Sarcasm
1. If you have considered the bother of baking good lasagna, you should have phone numbers of all your good friends handy and ready. Make sure they all have normal appetite and normal metabolism rate and are not non-meat eaters. For the latter, switch the sauces to white bechamel with parmesan and glazed spinach and then the ricotta cheese sauce - also switch the topping to shredded fontina cheese.
2. If you have considered the bother of baking good lasagna, find a market that has the excellent tasting ingredients and fresh rolled pasta and by that, I am not referring to anything that comes prepacked in mason jars..least of all plastic jars and cardboard boxes.
3. If you have considered the bother of baking good lasagna, why are you staring at that leftover? Pack it for lunch before the last uninvited 'plus one' snatches it - don't just say that you might have it for lunch and lay your hands on the wine-stained tablecloth....start moving and get that tiramisu out of the fridge already.