A nice way to congratulate new parents is with comfort food. The very best way to congratulate them is with smoked comfort food, like this smoked sausage and smoked marinara lasagna!
Some neighbors of ours recently welcomed their new baby to the world (hi sweetie!!). And knowing all too well what those first few weeks are like, we decided to bring them a dish they can make for dinner on a night they don’t feel like cooking (aka every single day for new parents!). Something simple, yet something perfectly comforting, cheesy, and oozing with smoked love. I mean sausage.
Think about it. The love you all have for lasagna just got 100 times more incredible by adding some delicious smoked sausage and rich smoked tomato sauce.
Since I was going through the effort of making lasagna in the first place, I figured it was only fair to make a double batch. One for us, and one for them.
I’ve made several variations of this over the last week while tweaking the recipe (I’ve been living off of lasagna for 6 days now!! There are worse problems to have I suppose), and for the final recipe below I tried to keep it as simple as possible.
If you are in a rush you can make this in batches. The sausage and marinara sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. Even the lasagna itself can be assembled up to a day in advance and placed in the oven when it’s time to eat.
You can feel free to add some sautéed mushrooms or other veggies too. One of my favorite versions was with spinach. I added about 4 cups of uncooked spinach intermixed with the layers. It kinda made me feel a little bit healthy like I was eating a salad, but one sandwiched in between smoked lasagna love.
And while the recipe for the smoked marinara sauce isn’t below, I pretty much followed this recipe to a T. The only thing I added was a little tomato paste for more richness. As if lasagna isn’t rich enough! I also threw in some Italian seasonings (dried oregano and basil to be specific). Feel free to adjust the flavors to your preference.
Go ahead and smoke the tomatoes and the sausage at the same time. Just prep your sausage and quarter your tomatoes, then toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
Smoke everything for 60-90 minutes.
Then make your smoked marinara sauce. You might want to make extra sauce, because it’s incredibly easy to just sneak spoonfuls of it and eat it alone like it’s soup. I’m speaking from experience here!
Once that’s done, you can save this for later, or build your lasagna.
- 1 lb ground hot Italian sausage casings removed or bulk
- 4 cups smoked marinara sauce recipe found at https://www.vindulge.com/2015/08/smoked-marinara-sauce/
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 12 no-boil or oven ready lasagna noodles
- 1 16- ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1- pound mozzarella cheese shredded (about 2 cups packed tight)
Preheat smoker to 225 degrees, for this I like oak wood
Place sausage spread out on a large foil-lined cookie sheet in small clumps
Smoke for 60-90 minutes and remove. Look for a darker color on the exterior while still moist.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a large skillet, add 1-tablespoon olive oil and the smoked sausage. Add 4 cups of the smoked tomato marinara sauce and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Mix together and let cook 5 minutes to combine.
In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Spread ½ cup of the tomato sauce evenly on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Layer with 3 lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Add 1/3 of the mozzarella, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the smoked tomato sauce.
Repeat with noodles, ricotta mix, cheeses, and sauce 2 more times. Cover with 3 noodles. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and sauce. Cover with foil.
Bake lasagna, covered with foil, for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 more minutes, until heated through and liquid is bubbly. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
You can add veggies to this too. It works well with sautéed mushrooms or spinach. Just add the veggies to the layers.
Wine! For our friends we gave them a bottle of bubbles. Because, new baby.
For us, we went for one of my favorite Italian reds — Montefalco Rosso from Umbria.
Montefalco Rosso DOC is made with primarily Sangiovese grapes (which are widespread in the area) blended with Sagrantino (the most important grape of the region), to give it structure and character, and often a small amount of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. They are like mini versions of Sagrantino di Montefalco, but great for everyday drinking as well as more affordable. If you’re not sure what exactly the magic of Sagrantino di Montefalco is, please head over here for a little primer.
2012 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso (Umbria, Italy) ~ $20 (media sample)
This one from Arnaldo-Caprai never disappoints. This one is rich and aromatic with lots of dark cherry, berries, spice, and some sweet vanilla. It’s got some tannins up in there from the Sagrantino grapes, but it also has some nice acidity that all balance well with the smoky sausage and rich sauce.
If you can’t find this wine, reach for your favorite Sangiovese. We also tried it with a Zinfandel (specifically from Seghesio) that worked very well too. It had less acid and tannins than the Montefalco Rosso, but had rich fruit that worked well with the comforting lasagna.
Doesn’t that just sound delish?!
What are your favorite make ahead meals to make for friends?
For more recipes check out the Recipe Index.
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