Thursday, March 15

Lasagna Stew

I wasn't too sure if I should share this recipe or not. It isn't exactly porphyria-friendly. Not only is there meat, but there are also tomatoes, onions, fennel, and a good amount of dairy. The only thing that it has going for it is that it has pasta.  To be sure, Tara only had one serving and I ate the rest.

We definitely don't eat like this every day. But here's the thing, we're human and we don't always eat the best.  It's just like when you're on a diet and you eat huge slice of cake (and a bowl of ice cream and some cookies, and a burger...); you know you shouldn't, but you do anyway. And, if you're the type, the next day you go bust your ass in the gym, or, at the very least, you get back on track with your diet.  It's the same thing here.  Tara occasionally  gets cravings for certain foods that aren't so trigger-friendly or we're in a pinch.  So, we try to eat foods before and after that are super high in carbs or she'll drink a Gatorade.

Anyway, enough of that and on to the recipe. Or the discussion of the recipe...

I initially saw Pass the Sushi's post on Lasagna Stew and it looked so good that I knew I was going to make it soon, like either that night or the next day, soon. 

Thankfully, my version of lasagna soup - Lasagna Stew - did not disappoint!  Honestly, the main reason I decided to post the recipe was because, people, this is good. I mean, really good. I'm not sure if it's because I love a good meat sauce and I rarely get to enjoy it, but I was savoring the sauce like nobody's business.

It doesn't taste quite like lasagna, but it is very lasagna-esque.  You know, kind of like a cousin of lasagna.  All the elements are there: meat sauce, pasta, ricotta, and browned mozzarella topping.  They just combine to form something fabulous.

Despite what I said earlier about this lasagna stew being essentially a trigger-bomb, it is quite customizable. It can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the meat with veggies like mushrooms and/or zucchini, etc.. It can be made dairy-light or even dairy-free. You can change up the spices somewhat by leaving out the fennel and upping the basil, oregano, and bay lead. I suppose it could even be made onion-free, too, although I'm not entirely sure because, at that point, it would probably be another dish entirely.


Lasagna Stew

Adapted from Pass the Sushi and Closet Cooking  and

Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you; this comes together fairly quickly.  If you want to make this more soup-like, increase the chicken stock to at least 4 cups. 


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium - large onions, finely chopped,
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste (organic preferred)
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups, approximately, chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8oz pasta (mafalda would be appropriate, but any big pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil (I left this out)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella


In a large pot (either a sauce pot or a large, high-sided skillet), heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking up into small chunks, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside (this step is optional, but it will help the next step go quicker.).

Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel and sauté for about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes or so.

Add to the pan tomatoes with juice, sausage (if you removed it), stock, bay leaf, and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Dump in the pasta, boil for a minute or so, turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Once done, drain and return to the pot.

While the sauce and pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to broil and place oven safe bowls on a baking sheet.

When the pasta is cooked and the sauce is done simmering, fish out the bay leaf and discard. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in pasta.

Scoop a heaping spoonful of ricotta into each bowl. Ladle stew into bowls and top each bowl with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Place in broiler with oven door cracked for 3-5 minutes or until cheese browns.

Wait a few minutes before serving because the stew will be super hot.

Recipe variations:

Vegetarian:  Replace the meat with any number of vegetables, but especially mushrooms. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water.

Dairy-free or dairy-light:  Decrease the amount of ricotta used in the lasagna and decrease the amount of topping. If you are just looking for a little bit of dairy, I would eliminate all but a smidge of the topping.

Fennel-free:  Leave out the fennel and, if you are using a meat, use ground pork and beef in place of the sausage. Increase the rest of the seasonings, especially the salt, pepper and bay leaf, and double the basil by adding it to the sauce while it is cooking and then at the end.

Gluten-free:  Use any gluten free pasta you prefer.

Onion-free:  I am guessing about this one. Leave out the onion and significantly increase the seasonings. I would add 2-3 bay leaves, add the larger amount of red pepper flakes (assuming you can handle heat), increase the oregano (add some fresh, too, if you have it), and double the basil by adding it when the sauce is cooking and then at the end.

If you try out any of these variations, please let me know how they work for you or what you did or would do differently.


  1. Sunshine, we just finished eating this for dinner, since it's meatless Monday here at home, I made it vegetarian with mushrooms, carrots and zucchini. All I (we) can say is delicious! Yes, delicious indeed, as a matter of fact, I like the lasagna stew better than the traditional layered recipe. I will definitely be making this more often, especially with sausage, just for Allan. :D Thanks for all the options. ~Z

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! Also happy to hear that it works with veggies. I had a feeling it would, but without actually trying it...

      Thanks so much for the comment!


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