Monday, May 9, 2016

Joey's Pizza Lasagna

 Ever since I started this cooking blog, I've tried to post recipes that I think people would like to cook. It's not enough for someone to look at a recipe and think "That looks delicious"", I want someone to think "I can make that!" So I looked back on the most popular posts over the last 8 years. The most popular recipe to date is Crock Pot Pizza Pasta. So I figured, why not take that same idea and do it as a baked lasagna instead of in the crock pot? I basically did the same process, but with a few minor tweaks and I must say, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!
 The idea was that each layer of lasagna noodles would basically be its own pizza, with sauce, toppings and cheese. So the first layer was sausage and bacon, the next layer was peppers and onions, the next layer was mushrooms, and the top layer, pepperoni! Then the whole thing is baked until bubbly and fabulous. Pretty cool, huh?  I chose these toppings because they're my favorite, but you can absolutely do whatever pizza toppings you like! Do a meat-lovers' pizza, do a veggie pizza, do just one topping, anything will work!
 Hopefully you'll see this recipe and think "I can make that!!" Because, do you know what??

Joey's Go-To Homemade Pizza Sauce, or jarred, or your own
1 lb lasagna noodles
1 lb Italian sausage, mild or hot
1/2 lb thick cut bacon, chopped
2 bell peppers, any color, coarsely chopped
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb baby bella mushrooms (or other mushroom of choice)
1 lbs sliced pepperoni
2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese

 Heat oven to 350ºF.
Fill a wide shallow pan with very hot water. Place the lasagna noodles in the water to soak while you prepare the other ingredients.
Remove the sausage from casings and brown in a skillet. I browned the bacon in the same pan. Drain excess grease.  Set the meat aside. In the same pan, saute the onions and peppers (I used some of the drained bacon fat) until slightly softened and caramelized. Set aside. Do the same with the mushrooms or other toppings of your choice.
 By now your noodles should be pliable but not too mushy.
 In a 9x13 baking dish, place a layer of sauce, then a layer each of noodles, more sauce, toppings and cheese. Layer the toppings in whatever order you'd like. Continue making layers until all of your ingredients are used up. End with a layer or pepperoni on top of the last layer of cheese.
 Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 15 or until the cheese is lightly golden and the pepperoni is sizzly. (is that a word? I'm going with it.)
 Let it rest for a good 10-15 minutes before slicing.

 One of the best things about making lasagna is that its a total do ahead. It's actually BETTER if you do it the night before, and then just heat it up when you want to serve. If you don't want to heat it twice, you can absolutely assemble it the night before and then bake it just before you want to serve it. I do recommend letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes after removing it from the oven because then it'll have a chance to set up a bit, which will result in nice perfect squares of lasagna that stay together.
 Another thing that will help your lasagna stay together (instead of the top half of your slice of lasagna sliding off) is to layer your noodles in different directions. So, for instance, if you're doing 4 layers of noodles, layers one and three should go longways in your pan, and layers two and four should go across. Just cut the noodles to fit. Yes, it takes a few extra minutes, but it'll keep your layers locked together.
You can definitely use regular marinara sauce, if that's what you have on hand. Just add a little dried oregano to make it more like pizza sauce!
 Btw, I purposely didn't include ricotta cheese in this lasagna, just because I wanted it to taste more like pizza, but you do you! If you want to add ricotta, go for it!

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