Second-chance lasagna

I’ve been making excuses forever not to give lasagna a chance. 

The noodle dish was on the menu at the restaurant where I worked for several years, and I can’t recall anyone ever ordering it twice or remarking on how good it was. This particular lasagna just wasn’t anything to get excited over or to justify adding to the calorie count and I developed a lofty attitude about the cheesy mix. After all my years of snubbing lasagna, I’ve given it a chance, thanks to a nudge from a lasagna lover. My end result may be high on the calorie count, but it’s lifted lasagna up on the ratings scale. I tested the dish with all types of meat, low-fat cheese and minimal sauce, but I’m sticking with a slightly modified variation of my red sauce and David Rosengarten’s classic American lasagna recipe from his 2003 cookbook “It’s All American Food,” an excellent cookbook I found on the bargain table at the Craig Claiborne Bookstore.

My red sauce recipe follows. For my second-chance lasagna, I combined the Italian sausage with 1 pound lean ground beef. The lasagna decision’s not necessarily in the noodle. In my case, it’s in the sauce.

Red sauce

4 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb. mild Italian sausage

2 cups diced tomatoes

¼ cup tomato paste

3 cups tomato sauce

½  cup fresh chopped basil

2 teaspoons ground oregano

2 tablespoons sugar

1 bay leaf

In large sauce pan, sauté diced garlic in olive oil. Add crumbled sausage and cook 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Drain if necessary. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, sugar, and bay leaf. Simmer one hour.

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