We’re going on about a year and a half of marriage now, and so far I have few complaints. My husband is a great guy for many reasons, but he’s also a very easy-going guy, which has proved quite crucial in the success of our young marriage. I really think there needs to be at least one easy-going person in a relationship, and it sure isn’t me.
When we first got married and moved in together, I tried to mentally prepare myself for all the bad things involved in living with a man. I contemplated bathroom and remote-control sharing, increased laundry, and the need to purchase groceries I myself would never eat (why does an adult man with a 401(k) still eat Cap’n Crunch???). I think all the mental preparing was helpful, because the reality of cohabitating ended up being a lot better than I expected. The only curveball that I definitely didn’t see coming is the fact that, from time to time, I have to watch grown men play poker on television.
In my haste to prepare for all the bad parts of marriage, I didn’t prepare at all for all the great things about marriage! And not the being-in-love/close-personal-connection/blah-blah-blah stuff, I’m talking about the fact that I don’t have to do taxes anymore! How amazing is that?! I just handed him my W2 and forgot all about it. And even better — somehow the clocks are all magically changed after Daylight Savings Time! This is so much more convenient than my prior practice of spending the six weeks following DST doing elementary-level math whenever I looked at a clock.
Making this lasagna introduced yet another benefit to marriage — my husband is easily ten times faster at grating mozzarella cheese than I am. Apparently all that increased upper body strength men have is useful in the kitchen, too!
SPICY-SWEET PEPPERONI LASAGNA (windykitchen original, sauce inspired by All Recipes)
9 lasagna noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
18 oz tomato paste (3 6-oz cans)
18 oz warm water
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp anchovy paste (optional)
2 and 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp dried basil, divided
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage (hot or mild, depending on preference)
1 5-oz package pepperoni, roughly chopped
1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and olive oil and cook until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain.
- To make sauce: in medium bowl, mix tomato paste, water, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, anchovy paste (if using), onion powder, oregano, marjoram, 1 tsp basil, cayenne pepper, sugar (if using) and crushed red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste. If omitting anchovy paste, use slightly more salt.
- Brown beef and sausage in large pot over medium heat; drain. Return to pot and add pepperoni and tomato sauce. Simmer over low heat while preparing remaining ingredients.
- While sauce simmers, combine beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, remaining 1/3 cup paremsan cheese, and remaining 1 tsp basil in medium bowl.
- To assemble lasagna, spread very thin layer of meat sauce over bottom of 9×13 glass baking dish (just enough to barely coat the bottom of the pan). Top with three lasagna noodles. Spread about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, then top with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Carefully spread 1/3 of meat sauce over mozzarella cheese. Repeat with two more layers of noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-meat sauce, then sprinkle top of lasagna with remaining mozzarella cheese. At this point I top with some more crushed red pepper flakes, because that’s just how I roll.
- Cover casserole dish with foil and bake 45-50 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and melted. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Um. This is pretty insanely good. I have to watch myself around this stuff, as I’ve been known to eat the leftovers by the forkful straight out of the fridge.