Sautéed garlic and Italian sausage, seared cherry tomato sauce, mozzarella, and broken pasta sheets are topped with cheesy toasted lemon crumbs before popping it in the oven and baking to gooey perfection. To make this delicious dinner even better, it’s a two-pan meal with quick clean up.
1½ tablespoons butter
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
Freshly ground pepper
Zest of one medium lemon
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, plus more for serving
12 ounces lasagna or sheet pasta broken into pieces, (do not use no-boil noodles)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian hot or mild sausages, pork, turkey or chicken, casings removed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
24 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
Juice of one lemon or 3 tablespoons
½ cup grated mozzarella
3 tablespoons whole small basil leaves or large leaves torn
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the panko and toss until lightly browned about 7-8 minutes, season with ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper. Cool to room temperature, stir in the lemon zest and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add a handful of salt and the broken pasta to the boiling water. Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking. Cook until al dente, about 11-12 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, remove the casings from the sausage. Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron or another oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add the sausage and garlic. As the sausage cooks, break into bite-size pieces. Cook until the edges are browned, and the center is no longer pink. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour out any remaining sausage fat leaving just a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until blistered, popping open and slightly softened about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and cook, lightly-pressing until all the tomatoes are crushed. Add the pasta, sausage, remaining Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved cooking water, one tablespoon at a time, to thin to your desired consistency.
Sprinkle evenly over the top of the pasta the Panko crumbs, and place in the oven for 15 minutes, baking until the crumbs are golden. Top with fresh basil leaves and serve in warmed bowls with more Parmesan cheese on the side.