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Lasagna Diablo

One of my absolute favorites! This has been modified over the years but is based on a recipe from Jane Butel’s Hotter Than Hell cookbook. To reduce the fire use sweet sausage instead of hot and omit the crushed red pepper, but leave the cayenne and white pepper in the sauce.

2 pounds hot Italian sausage
2 tablespoons Italian crushed hot red pepper
1 teaspoon anise seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 cups diced tomatoes, drained
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 quart light cream
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
½ cup Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Cook the lasagna noodles until just tender to bite.

Remove casings then grind the hot sausage and brown in skillet with 1½ tablespoons of the crushed red pepper (omit the crushed red pepper for a tamer version). Drain the sausage, remove from skillet and set aside.

Wipe out skillet and sauté the mushrooms and zucchini until softened.  Add tomatoes and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until liquid has mostly evaporated. Set tomato mixture aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan then stir in flour until well blended. Using a whisk, stir in cream; whisk until sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt, cayenne, white pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a large (10"x14") casserole dish. Layer ingredients in casserole as follows:

- noodles
- sausage
- mozzarella
- noodles
- cream sauce
- veggie mixture
- mozzarella
- noodles
- cream sauce

Repeat until all ingredients are used (although 2 layers - one meat and one veggie - should fill the pan), ensuring enough cream sauce for the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan and remaining crushed red pepper. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until bubbly.

This dish is even better when cooled and then reheated.


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