Harvey’s Famous Lasagna

Pardon the image; we were rushing to eat our dinner instead of hankering for the best light. I promise, the actual food tastes better than it looks.

We’re usually traveling on Christmas Day to Florida to visit Harvey’s parents and Christmas Eve we spend with my parents, but this year, being 8 months pregnant we’re hanging and home and invited my brother and sister-in-law Andrew and Nicole over to enjoy Harvey’s famous lasagna he always makes on our family x-mas Dec. 23.

The reason it’s famous is because we don’t skimp on ingredients. We use good quality whole milk mozzarella and whole milk (never part-skim) ricotta for a super creamy, indulgent meal. The recipe below calls for a good quality jarred tomato sauce, but if I have it on hand, I’ll use the roasted and pureed, frozen heirloom tomatoes from the summer farmers market instead. Just cook it down a little to release the extra moisture and I usually add a little roasted or sautéed garlic and some herbs for extra flavor. We also use good Italian sausage from Poeta’s in Highwood, Paulina Market in Lakeview, or Whole Foods if we must.

Seriously, I know the photo stinks but if you have the time and a craving give this a try!

Harvey’s Famous Lasagna

Makes 6 servings

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds bulk Italian sausage (or 1 pound sausage, 1 pound ground beef)

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 32-ounce jars good-quality bottled tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes with added puree

 

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves

1 cup fresh spinach (optional)

24 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)?

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

For the lasagna:

12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente

3 cups (packed) grated whole milk mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and sauté until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces with back of fork, about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes with juices. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.

Using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves (and spinach if using) finely in a food processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg and pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce atop noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses.

Bake lasagna until cooked through and browned and bubbly on top, about 45 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let rest 15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

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