I posted this recipe to Suite101.com in February 2001 ...
Who says that cooking Dutch oven lasagna has to be a laborious process? With all those layers of meat, cheese and pasta, it's a small wonder that anyone builds lasagna while camping. You have to cook tomato sauce, boil the pasta and layer the whole thing without trying to use every pan that been sitting in the chuckbox all week. It's one of those dishes that’s easily left for the home kitchen.
My oldest child, Stephanie, inadvertently brought the answer home last summer after a month-long visit to my sister's house in San Jose, Calif. My sister, Elizabeth, and Stephanie share the family's love for cooking. So each time she visits, Elizabeth sends her home with a few more recipes to try. Elizabeth must have taught Stephanie how to prepare easy-bake lasagna during her visit last June.
Elizabeth's easy-bake lasagna assembles quickly because it uses bottled spaghetti sauce and lasagna noodles that don't require boiling (Ronzoni calls them "oven ready"). You'll also notice that she uses a simplified list of ingredients. This lasagna is just as flavorful as traditional lasagna that calls for three or four cheeses and several herbs. Easy-bake lasagna uses ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and basil. Its flavor is simple, yet exquisite at the same time. You’ll enjoy it.
ELIZABETH'S EASY-BAKE DUTCH OVEN LASAGNA
Although Elizabeth doesn't cook this lasagna in a Dutch oven, it's one that she often at home for her family. She often divides this recipe in two and freezes half for quick meals or to give to friends or those in need from her church.
1 8-ounce box Ronzoni Oven Ready Lasagna Pasta
1 pound cooked Italian sausage
1 28-ounce jar meatless spaghetti sauce (about three cups)
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed
Use a 12-inch Dutch oven for this recipe. Ignite 25 charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they're barely covered with ash, about 20 minutes. For a 350-degree oven, you'll need 8 briquettes underneath and 17 on top of the oven.
Brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Break up meat as it cooks. Drain fat and spoon meat into a bowl. Evenly spread 3/4-cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the oven. (I used Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce when testing this recipe. You may use different flavors of bottled spaghetti sauce, but note that you may change the flavor slightly.) In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg and garlic powder.
To prepare each layer, lay 4 lasagna noodles flat on the bottom of the oven. Break noodles into smaller sizes as needed. Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over the noodles. Spread 1-cup spaghetti sauce over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 of the parsley and basil over sauce. Sprinkle 1-cup mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Spread 1/2 of sausage over cheese. Lay all the spinach leaves over sausage (there will only be 1 layer of spinach). Repeat one more time to form a second layer.
Place lid on oven. Arrange 8 briquettes underneath oven and 17 briquettes on lid. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle remaining cheese over lasagna. Cover; bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes to melt cheese. Remove oven from the charcoal. Cool lasagna 10 minutes.
Note: A 10-ounce package of thawed and drained frozen chopped spinach may be substituted for fresh spinach. Mix spinach with ricotta cheese, egg and garlic powder. Regular lasagna noodles may be used for this recipe without boiling them. If you don't boil the noodles, bake lasagna an additional 10 minutes.
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