Main Dish

Harry's Favorite Italian Sausage and Beef Lasagna

Alexander Valley Vineyards

8644 Highway 128
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Make this marinara sauce from ripe summer tomatoes, then put it up for use during the rest of the year! While not quick, it is worth the effort. Lasagna's holy trinity of cheese, sauce and pasta is the perfect match for the rich berry flavors, spice and structure of Redemption Zinfandel. Harry's tip: make a double recipe and add blanched, drained spinach - the kids love it this way.

Harry's Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 white or yellow onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 anchovy, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh tomato juices and pulp (see Note below)
  • 15 to 20 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vinegar if needed
  • Sugar if needed
To prepare the marinara sauce, in a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, red pepper flakes and anchovy and cook, stirring frequently and mashing the anchovy; it should begin to dissolve into the onion mixture. After the anchovy is well incorporated, add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato juice and pulp and roughly shred the basil by hand into the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer.  

Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water. In a saucepan over high heat, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Using a small pairing knife, cut an “X” in the bottom (opposite the stem end) of the 4 tomatoes. Add them to the boiling water and blanch for about 30 seconds, then transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Let cool, then peel the skins off the tomatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise and gently squeeze out and discard the seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them to the simmering marinara. Cook the sauce slowly, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for several hours until the desired consistency is reached. The longer it cooks, the thicker it will become (but also more likely to burn, so stir more regularly).  

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt, black pepper, vinegar and/or sugar. Because this sauce includes fresh tomatoes, the levels of sugar and acid will vary greatly depending on the tomato variety, ripeness, size, etc., so be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

NOTE: I use a tomato juicer/strainer/mill to collect the juice and pulp from several pounds of ripe summer tomatoes while removing the seeds and skins. If you don't have ripe summer tomatoes, select a high-quality brand like Pomi Strained Tomatoes as a substitute.

Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups homemade marinara sauce (see Note below)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
To prepare the meat sauce, in a large pot over medium heat, cook the ground beef, sausage and onion, stirring to break up the meat, until browned and cooked through. Drain off the excess fat. 

Add the marinara, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, parsley and red pepper flakes to the pot and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Remove from the heat, and remove and discard the bay leaf.  

NOTE: If you don't have time to prepare the homemade marinara, just use your favorite jarred brand.

Cottage Cheese Mixture

  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs, lightly beatn
While the meat sauce simmers, prepare the cottage cheese mixture: In a bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, dried basil, garlic, red pepper flakes and eggs.


  • 1 box no-boil or oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  

Spread a layer of the meat sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Cover the sauce with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spread some of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Add a layer of the prosciutto to cover the cottage cheese and sprinkle one-third of the mozzarella and Parmesan over all. Repeat two more times, topping the lasagna with a final layer of mozzarella and Parmesan. 

Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it does not touch the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into portions and serve. 

Add a green salad and some garlic bread along with a bottle of Redemption Zinfandel and you have the perfect dinner for friends or family!


The ingredients listed below are from Alexander Valley Vineyards' garden, olive trees and chickens. They are included in the preparation of the recipe for the Wine & Food Affair weekend:
84 medium onions
3 bunches fresh parsley
28 teaspoons dried basil
392 garlic cloves 
56 eggs 
420 fresh basil leaves
35 gallons of pulp from tomato juice
112 large tomatoes
Olive oil