I like lasagna, but I'm not keen on making it an all-day affair. Yes, you can used jarred pasta sauces to speed up the process, but, frankly, those aren't great, and making the sauce isn't the problem. It's the whole production process. So, instead of making classic lasagna, I decided to streamline things a bit by wrapping lasagna noodles around Italian sausages and then finishing the cooking process in one pan on the stove top. You get the taste of lasagna with minimum hassle. Now, how do you wrap the lasagna noodle around the sausage? Well, first you have to soak the noodles in hot water until they become pliable. Then you smear them with a ricotta mixture and roll them around a precooked sausage. Simple. I use uncooked sausages that I first brown in the air fryer, but, for even faster preparation, you can also use precooked chicken or turkey Italian sausages (I get mine from Lidl or Aldi, but there are lots of brands--just watch the salt, because some are ultra salty). The lasagna roll-ups finish cooking in the simple sauce and are ready in about half an hour (or less). You'll have a great "comfort food" dinner all set to go with minimum fuss.
Easier Than Lasagna Dinner -- Serves 4
8 no-boil lasagna noodles (or use 8 regular noodles and soak them longer)
6 chicken or turkey precooked Italian sausages
1 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil, divided
2-3 teaspoons of canola or olive oil
1 small/medium onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1-2 teaspoons of Italian herbs
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 - 1 1/2 cups of shredded Italian cheese blend
Spread the noodles out in a long pan or casserole dish (a 9 x 13-inch or similar pan works fine). Pour boiling water over them to cover them and let them sit until they become pliable--depending on the noodle this can take 30 minutes. You can also cover the noodles with hot tap water early in the day and let them sit there until you're ready to use them (I do this at lunch time and then leave them until dinner--works fine!). While the noodles are soaking, in a small bowl blend the ricotta, Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoon of the basil. When the noodles are pliable, lay them out on a piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Divide the ricotta mixture among six of the noodles and spread it out over the noodles, leaving a little space on the edges of the noodles without ricotta. Take a sausage, lay it at one end of a noodle, and roll it up, jelly-roll-style. Repeat the process with five more noodles. Cut the remaining two noodles into pieces about an inch or two wide (these will help soak up extra sauce and give you more pasta in the dish. For the sauce, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large chef's pan. Add the onion and saute it for about five or six minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, remaining basil, Italian herbs, and garlic powder. Bring the sauce to a boil, stir it well, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Place the sausage rolls into the sauce, seam down, and then add the noodle pieces around the sausage rolls. Spoon some of the sauce over everything. Partially cover the pan and let the lasagna rolls simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens and lasagna noodles are cooked. Spoon the sauce over the rolls again. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the lasagna rolls and cover the pan again until the cheese melts. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let the lasagna rolls sit a few minutes before serving them with sauce and extra noodles.