I used to think that there was nothing better than a pan of homemade lasagna. Cheesy, gooey goodness layered with pasta – all of my favorite foods in one dish. But then I had my husband’s grandmother’s lasagna and discovered it could get even better with one ingredient – pepperoni! I had never had lasagna with pepperoni before but it completely took this classic comfort food to another level of delicious. Since the addition of one pizza topping was so good in lasagna, I naturally decided to take it to the next level and make lasagna with all the ingredients of a supreme pizza. And we loved it! My family LOVES pizza, so this combination of pizza toppings with one of our favorite pasta dishes was a huge hit. I know the addition of pepperoni adds more fat to this notoriously rich dish, but I balanced that a bit by cutting back on the cheese and adding extra veggies. Still, this is definitely not a healthy, every night sort of meal. But it makes a great alternative to pizza on family pizza night!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cups loosely packed baby kale or spinach leaves
- 4 1/2 cups basil marinara sauce
- 15 no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla is my favorite brand)
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3 cups mozzarella
- 3 ounces pepperoni, divided
- 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1/3 cup sliced black olives (optional)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or basil (optional)
- 1. Preheat oven to 350º. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage until no pink remains and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
- 2. Add the bell peppers and onion to the pan used to cook the sausage, adding a little more olive oil, if necessary. Cook until the vegetables or softened, several minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the kale or spinach leaves; set vegetables aside.
- 3. To Assemble: Pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking dish and spread evenly over the bottom. Layer 5 of the lasagna noodles over the sauce. Top noodles with 3/4 cup of the ricotta, gently spreading it with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella on top of the ricotta, then top this with half of the sausage, half of the cooked vegetable mixture and 1 ounce of the pepperoni. Repeat layers once, starting with marinara and ending with pepperoni.
- 4. After the second layer of pepperoni, finish with 1 cup marinara, 5 noodles, 1 more cup sauce and then the remaining mozzarella and 2/3 cup parmesan. If desired, top the parmesan with the remaining 1 ounce of pepperoni, sliced olives and basil or parsley, to copy the look of pizza toppings.
- 5. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil to keep in the moisture so that the noodles cook properly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until noodles seem tender. Remove foil and continue to cook 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown on the top. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
This lasagna can definitely be prepared and assembled ahead of time. It will keep, tightly covered in the fridge, for 2 or 3 days before cooking.