While one would usually use pasta sheets in lasagna, this dish uses thin slices of potato in the layers instead! I know I've seen those sliced refrigerated potatoes in the market before, which you could use and speed up the process, but I just hauled out the food processor and used the slicing blade to burn through a few whole potatoes. To ensure the potatoes cook in the proper amount of time ala lasagna style, the slices are dropped in a pot of boiling salted water for just a few minutes to begin the process.
As I waited for those get going, I had another skillet busy browning the spicy sausage with onions and garlic. Now, if you don't have a 'shroom hater you will be serving, toss in a couple cups of thinly sliced mushrooms at this point to anchor the sausage with an earthy element. However, Jeff had an eagle eye out as we were shopping and I couldn't sneak any into the basket. I still tried, but he whisked them out and put them back before I knew it... and you know what? He likes the darn fungi since he has eaten them before (without knowing it anyway), but just won't admit it! I think he has issues... hee hee!
To those meaty crumbles, I sprinkled in flour, along with salt, fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Since we're making a quick milk sauce and adding spinach later on, nutmeg is one of those key secret ingredients where if you add just a little, the background notes it brings heightens the flavor. However, you only want to add enough that it serves this purpose, but couldn't be specifically picked out. Once the milk is added and has thickened, the skillet is set aside while we began the assembly process.
Before layering, we whisked together a mound of ricotta cheese, spinach, Parmesan, an egg and a few flakes of crushed red pepper for a touch of heat. Starting out with a layer of those quickly-cooked potato slices on the bottom, that ricotta filling is spread on top, followed by a portion of the juicy meat concoction. Shreds of mozzarella cheese were next, then came another layer of the remaining potatoes, the ricotta and finally the meat sauce. Baked, covered, until hot and bubbly, the dish is taken out and uncovered to add a bit more cheese. Back into the oven it went for just a few minutes more, giving the heat time to melt that top layer of cheese.
As with any lasagna, be sure to plan for at least a 10 or 15 minute rest once it has come out of the oven to give it time to set. You could dish it out right away, but it would be fairly messy and not hold together well. We let it sit about 10 minutes and couldn't wait any longer, but we were still able to get tidy squares out! I thought the potatoes might end up making it a gut-bomb (classy, huh?), but actually it wasn't as heavy as I feared. I don't know if it was the egg in the filling that helped to keep it lighter, but this was such a complete comfort dish. Cheesy, meaty and plenty of potatoes to go around, I do think those mushrooms would be a nice addition to break up the richness. However, even without them (though especially so, I bet Jeff would say), we were both full and satisfied by the time we finished our plates!
Sausage and Potato Lasagna