Joni Woolf: The best lasagna ever

Published 11:14 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I like lasagna. I don’t eat it often, however, for it is a rich, high-calorie food that should be eaten with restraint. But when my daughter Carey makes her recipe, restraint is thrown to the winds. Hers is the best I’ve eaten — ever — and I am always happy to be invited to join her and whoever she happens to be feeding. Last night it was a colleague from the Schley County School System, and her daughter. They had not had power for 24 hours — much of Schley Country was without electricity — and Carey invited them for a lovely dinner on a dark and cloudy night (a night when we were also anticipating another bad weather day in Southwest Georgia. In fact, that’s about all we talked about, as I imagined getting in my car and taking off for somewhere —anywhere — to escape the coming storms).
Carey served it with a great green salad: spring mix, romaine, tomatoes, dried cranberries, avocado, freshly grated parmesan, and several choices of dressing. I added a loaf of Italian bread, seasoned with garlic powder, butter and some of the parmesan, baked it 15 minutes, and we had a delightful meal.
The recipe follows:

Carey Wooten’s Lasagna
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can diced tomatoes, or 8-10 fresh tomatoes if in season
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
Salt and pepper to taste
9 to 12 lasagna noodles
1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pint ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley
Cook sauce by browning sausage, onions and garlic. Drain grease. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.
Combine ricotta, parmesan, and fresh parsley.
In a 9” x 11” deep casserole, spread a small amount of the sauce. Layer 1/3 of the noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the mozzarella, and ½ of the ricotta mixture. Repeat layers. Top with another layer of noodles, remaining sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
Bake in a preheated 350 F. degree oven, covered with foil for 40 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes. (Spray foil with Pam to prevent cheese from sticking.)
Let sit 15 minutes before serving. Provide fresh parmesan cheese and basil leaves for topping. Serve with a nice red wine and a tall glass of cool water and voila! A perfect meal. Trust me. It is the best lasagna ever.

If a light dessert is needed after such a robust dinner, offer a small serving of low-fat vanilla ice cream, topped with a tablespoon of Amaretto. We might even imagine we are in Italy, which wouldn’t be a bad thing during tornado season.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at