Though my love of cheese is well established here, I must confess that what makes this lasagna so special is the sauce. Saucing your lasagna can be a tricky business. Add too much and the whole thing turns into a soupy sloppy mess, add too little and you've shortchanged the most flavorful component of your dinner. The compromise? Set aside a hearty portion of sauce to serve alongside your lasagna.
1 lb hot italian sausage
1 large yellow onion chopped fine
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup red wine
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 (28oz cans) crushed tomatoes
1 TBLSP sugar
1 cup parmesan
15oz ricotta cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2lbs mozzarella, sliced
1 lb barilla lasagna noodles (The kind that do not need to be cooked before the lasagna build.)
Remove sausage from it's casings and crumble into a large dutch oven. Use the back of a spoon to break apart sausage as you brown it over medium heat. When sausage has browned nicely remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon. Eyeball the pan, if it looks as if there is less than 1/3 cup oil left from the sausages add olive oil, or if there is more than 1/3 cup remove some of the sausage drippings. Add onions to pan and cook until translucent. Add garlic to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes making certain that garlic does not brown. Add sausage back to the pan, along with 1 cup of red wine. Cook over medium heat, until wine has reduced in volume by half. (About 10 minutes) Add the oregano, thyme, dried basil, salt, pepper, tomatoes and sugar to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. Set sauce aside.
In a medium bowl mix the eggs with the parmesan. Once combined, stir in the ricotta, then gently fold in the basil.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan* with olive oil. Coat the bottom of the pan with 1/2 cup sauce. Layer pasta, ricotta, mozzarella slices, and sauce in pan repeating until all the ricotta is gone. Create one final layer of pasta, (Coat this one lightly but completely with sauce. Any pasta that is not covered won't cook properly.) You should have quite a bit of sauce left over. Set this aside to serve with the completed lasagna) Top with a final layer of mozzarella slices and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
*If you'd like, you can make two smaller lasagnas rather than one big one. After you have cooked both lasagnas, cool one, wrap it well in foil and place in a freezer bag. The lasagna should stay fresh for 3-4 months in the freezer. Don't forget to freeze some sauce as well! To serve, defrost the lasagna completely in the fridge and then bake at 400 degrees for one hour.