About Lasagna = A Better Way To Make a Red Sauce


Once again I am indebted to my culinary guide, Richard Lafortune for tips on how to make a red sauce that is a cut above the standard recipe I have used.  Lasagna is one of those healthy dishes that is perfect on a cold winter day.

Richard made this nice pan of Lasagna. He shared the secret of the sauce with me, which I pass on to you.  The reason I like it is that it wasn’t heavy with red sauce acidity and lighter on the palate. This is a do ahead sauce, according to Richard. One day before is good.


2 Cups chopped large onion sautéed in 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil until well browned with 3 minced/smashed cloves of garlic (don’t burn the garlic)

When this is ready add:

2 cups chopped mushrooms and 1 cut up turkey sausage (or Italian spiced sausage and brown ingredients. Then add 1 large can of Trader Joe’s tomato sauce*[1] and 4 small cans of diced tomatoes along with 1½ cups water or stock

Simmer for 45 minutes. Towards the end add your spices:

3 teaspoons of oregano

1-1/2 Tsp black pepper

Light on the salt

1 Tsp crushed basil

Pinch of cinnamon

Fresh Italian parsley – a small handful (optional)

Finally take a box of thawed frozen spinach – squeeze water out and add to sauce.

Richard explained he was preparing to cook the noodles when he looked at the directions on the box that they came in – ‘hey these are no cook noodles.’  I had heard of no cook noodles long ago. It was with skepticism that I listened to other cooks’ testimony of their goodness.  Anyway, Richard used the already boiled water and proceeded to dip the no cook noodles one-by-one and distribute in the Lasagna pan. (He had seen that done on a cooking show.) Layering the ingredients in the traditional way with one change; he layers in a crisscross pattern – first layer of  noodles – place them short way and then the next layer is placed the long way – repeat the pattern until all the noodles are used.


Build the lasagna

Cheeses for the layers:

1 ½ lb grated Mozzarella

2/3 lb grated Parmesan

1 ½ cups Ricotta mix in one egg (or substitute pesto sauce – Richard’s recipe)

Richards recommends using a pastry bag to distribute small teaspoon-sized dots ricotta in a grid on each layer to avoid big globs of ricotta.

In a 9 x13 x 2 inch baking pan spread a ½-cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then a layer of noodles placed the long way (4 layers grid style as follows), cover with sauce, ricotta and cheeses that are divided up into 4ths of the mozzarella/ricotta/grated Parmesan.  Repeat noodles, but place them the short way and repeat the process alternating with the sauce and cheeses.  Repeat noodles placed the long way with the sauce and cheeses layered.  Top off the last layer of noodles with leftover sauce and cheeses.

Bake at 350 for 45 min – let sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Note:  No cook noodles are thinner.



[1] Trader Joe’s uses Non BPA cans

About kunstkitchen

Visual artist and writer hunting words, languages, visions, and insight in my kitchen - connecting Art (Kunst) and culture and slow food cooking. Classically trained artist. Paint and draw with traditional materials. Live in the Northland where it's six months of winter. Appreciate the little things in life. Sharing food and art experiences and the lessons that my talented and generous friends have given me.
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2 Responses to About Lasagna = A Better Way To Make a Red Sauce

  1. I have never tried the no cook noodles, but now that you’ve mentioned they are thinner, next time I’ll give it a go. I’ve had lasagne with thinner noodles and didn’t realize that was the “secret.” I’m guessing that the dip in water keeps them from sucking up all the sauce…

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