Eat This While You Read That: Lou Antonelli

When I asked Lou Antonelli for a story and a dish, he did something no other author has… he paired a story with the dish. Irredenta, which you can read here for free, is set on a colony world which has roots reaching back to Old Earth’s northern Italy. Perfect to read while you cook and eat Lou’s lasagna! If you liked that story and you want to give Lou some money, you can find more of his work on Amazon.

Lasagna is less about the recipe, and more about the ingredients and assembly. So today I’m giving you a pictorial (photo tutorial?) and a shopping list. We made a big pan, and on the second day I cut it while cold, and slipped individual servings into ziplocs to freeze. They make fantastic quick lunches with about 3 min on low, and 2 on high, in the microwave.

Shopping list:

  • 2 lb lasagna noodles
  • jar of Marinara sauce (2 if you like a saucy lasagna)
  • 1 lb sausage
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese (get the whole milk kind)
  • 12 oz shredded mozzarella. More if you want!
  • 6 oz (about 1 cup shredded) Parmesan cheese
  • Mushrooms (optional, saute with the sausage fat and some chopped garlic)

This came out delicious, need I say more? It’s not terribly difficult to pull together, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser. The First Reader is already wanting me to make it again. If you’re feeling like it, you can make my tiramisu to go after you’ve enjoyed a piece of this. Or not, because you’re just too full.

Begin by browning your sausage – I added red pepper flakes for spiciness.
Very Important Step: rinse your noodles thoroughly so they don’t get sticky. Bonus: doing this with cold water cools them enough to handle.
Use the good stuff. You’ll be needing mozzarella, Parmesan (above) and ricotta for the lasagna.
The good ricotta – whole milk, and so creamy. Usually the ricotta I’ve had in the past was grainy, this wasn’t. You’ll mix two eggs and most of the Parmesan into the ricotta to make it spreadable. I’d throw some chopped garlic in there, too. 
Workstation ready to assemble the lasagna. You’ll note I’m being lazy and using a jar of marinara.
Spread a thin layer of sauce in the pan. If you like you can put more in – I prefer a dryer lasagna.
First layer of noodles. I put every other layer crosswise to the one under it, for stability.
Layer of noodles, cheese, sausage, repeat. I added sauce to the next layer and a handful of mozz, then the third layer was the same as the one you see here, and so on until I ran out of ricotta mixture.
Make sure there is sauce coating that last layer of noodle, so it doesn’t dry out, and then cheese! this is mostly mozz with the last of the parmesan added.
Melted golden cheese… the lasagna is done after about 90 min in the oven at 350 deg F, when it started to bubble around the edges.
You can almost see the layers – they slip when it’s hot.
On the second day, when you reheat and cut, the strata is revealed in all it’s cheesy glory.