I believe I have told you numerous times that I am lazy. Some people don’t think of me as lazy, but I’ve just got them fooled. For example, take this fake lasagna recipe. It looks and tastes like I have been slaving away in the kitchen for hours. Anyone who has ever prepared true lasagna knows that it takes hours to prepare. There’s the meat sauce, then the cheeses, then those darling lasagna noodles. And if you are really into a truly decadent lasagna, not only is there a red sauce, there’s a béchamel sauce. Now granted, none of these sauces are difficult to assemble. But add up all the time it takes to prepare each step, and you are talking about an all afternoon project. And granted, sometimes I make an honest to goodness, over the top lasagna. But for those times when I don’t want to spend 4 hours playing in the kitchen but still want a rich, creamy and luscious casserole, I make my dear buddy Margo’s recipe. And all kidding aside, it is one of the tastiest Italian casseroles you will ever meet. The sauce and the cheeses work together to cover the egg noodles in a gooey dressing that just melts in your mouth. Serve this with a Caesar salad, a warm crusty baguette or my Soft Breadsticks, and a bottle of your favorite rich red wine, and I promise you all thoughts of lasagna noodles will evaporate as fast as cookies in an office break room! Thanks again Margo for this wonderful recipe.

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian Sausage (or half ground beef and half Italian sausage)
  • 10-12 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jar (or 2 ½ c.) marinara sauce (I use Paul Newman’s Marinara Sauce – I told you I was lazy!)
  • 8-oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 pint sour cream (2 cups)
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 lb. grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 12-oz. (4 c. uncooked) thick egg noodles, cooked al dente (I use Country Pasta – Homemade Style Egg Pasta I buy in the 64-oz. package from Costco) OR rice pasta for a wonderful GF casserole
  • 2 T. minced fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a large fry pan. Add the sausage and sauté until very brown, breaking up the pieces as it cooks. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute or until the garlic releases its aroma. Pour in the marinara sauce and let gently burble for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile combine the room temperature cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan, green onions, and mozzarella cheese. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Scoop about a half cup of the marinara sauce mixture into the bottom of the pan. Layer with half of the cooked noodles, half of the marinara sauce, and half of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

(As you can see from the picture, there is no fresh parsley sprinkled on top. Oh I had the parsley all chopped and happily residing in my refrigerator. But in all my last minute frantic efforts to get the meal out for yesterday’s pre JazzVox concert lunch, the parsley was forgotten. Of course the lack of a parsley garnish didn’t stop anyone from eating the casserole, but I sure felt like a dummy when I realized what I had done. Not the first time I have left off that final touch, and considering that I am only getting older and less likely to remember even the most mundane of tasks, I’m sure it won’t be the last. I could mention the salad I forgot to serve for our New Year’s Eve late night buffet, but why bother you with even more evidence that I’m not playing with my full set of Cutco knives, circa 1964, any longer!)