There are two things that I love to do: laugh and cook. I figured why not combine the two?
I’ve mentioned before that I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, because that’s what I’ve been told and nobody has ever said, “Ew, that’s disgusting!” nor have they spit it back out at me. So, that’s a good thing, I guess.
I’ve never had any formal training, but I often regret not going to culinary school so I could learn how to wield a knife and chop the shit out of stuff so fast that I might — MIGHT! – lose a finger.
I do have one specialty that people have requested: 1) to make them a dish of my lasagna, or 2) give them the damn recipe! I always wind up making it because I was never really ready to give away my secrets. So, I guess it’s time I give up the goods on how to make great lasagna.
The measurements are not exact, because I never measure anything. When I cook, I go by instinct and taste. Besides, I’ve made this lasagna so many times, that I know it by heart. The only thing I can suggest is that you do the same. Guesstimate. You really can’t screw this up.
Here’s your grocery list:
2 packages (8 or 10 links) of sweet Italian sausage (notice I said, “sweet,” not hot!)
4 small cans of sliced black olives (you can use 1 1/2 large cans)
1 jar of sliced green olives (Go ahead and splurge, get the large jar. You’ll use them for something else later on)
2 jars of Emeril’s Vodka sauce (Sometimes, Emeril’s brand is hard to find, but it is the best. If not, Newman’s Own is pretty good too)
1 box of lasagna noodles
Mozzarella cheese (You can use pre-shredded, but I use the block and grate it myself because it taste fresher)
Mild cheddar cheese (same as Mozz cheese above, I grate my own)
1 large tub of cottage cheese (small or large curd, doesn’t really matter)
Ground black pepper
**No salt is needed because the green olives provide enough to increase your blood pressure slightly.
A lot of people use Riccota cheese in their lasagna, but…eww, N-O! I don’t like the texture or flavor. I think the cottage cheese (especially when mixed with the sauce) lends a creaminess that is irresistible. It’s ironic, because I can’t stand cottage cheese any other way.
Also note that this recipe will yield two casserole (8×13) dishes worth of goodness. Leftovers taste better the second day and it also freezes nicely. When you’re feeling lazy, just pop that bad boy in the microwave and viola, instant dinner.
Here we go! Time to get started!
1. Squeeze the condom-filled Italian sausage links in the center until the meat comes out of both ends and plops into the frying pan. Keep doing that until you finish all of the links. Throw away the condom-looking crap. (I wasn’t sure if you needed to know that or not. Better safe than sorry). Mash the sausage until it’s crumbly and cook until completely brown.
2. While the sausage it browning, start boiling your lasagna noodles. Note: If you are a rebel and feel like making homemade pasta, knock yourself out. Or, you can use the no-cook type pasta too. Believe it or not, it doesn’t taste any different.
3. Pour yourself a glass of wine. I prefer the nice robust flavor of House Wine of the South (i.e. iced tea).
4. Open the cans of sliced black olives and drain the juice completely. You can open the green olives if you want, but don’t drain the juice. We’ll need it later, trust me.
5. When the lasagna noodles are al dente (do not overcook, because when you throw this bad boy in the oven, they will get mushy. Gross!), drain them using a colander DO NOT rinse the noodles, because you still want the starchy water adhered to the pasta. It will help thicken up all of the juices and sauces you’ll be adding later. You don’t want this turning into lasagna soup.
6. Spray the casserole dishes with a non-stick spray and place your first layer of overlapping noodles, covering the bottom.
7. Drain the grease and sprinkle some of the sweet Italian sausage, black and green olives, followed by dollops of cottage cheese on top of your first layer of noodles. Spread evenly.
8. Pour on 1/2 a jar of Vodka sauce. Spread evenly, making sure to mix with the cottage cheese. Mixture will lighten in color, obviously.
9. Sprinkle on a layer of mozzarella cheese.
10. Add another layer of noodles, Italian sausage, black and green olives and dollops of cottage cheese, followed by the last 1/2 of vodka sauce.
11. Here’s the secret trick: splash some of the juice from the green olives over the top, but not too much. You don’t want your guests to gag or have an urgent need to drink a gallon of water.
12. Add the final layer of mozzarella cheese.
13. Sporadically sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top, followed by a little black pepper.
Bake the above concoction at 400 degrees on the middle shelf until the cheese starts to turn a golden brown on the top (about 30-45 minutes. Slice and serve hot.
**Make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath your casserole dish to prevent spillage.
Let me know if you make this and how you liked it.
Also, do you have any favorite recipes?