Make lasagna and garlic bread with Rev Run and wife, Justine Simmons

In anticipation of their upcoming reality series “Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers” on the Cooking Channel, Rev Run and his wife, Justine Simmons, stopped by the TODAY kitchen to whip up a hearty Italian meal. 

Spicy Italian sausage lasagna

  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Two 16-ounce boxes lasagna noodles
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for tossing with noodles
  • 2 pounds spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 4 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Three 24-ounce jars good-quality store-bought tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella plus one 1-pound block mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • 1 20-inch by 12-inch by 3-inch disposable aluminum baking pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Add the lasagna noodles to the boiling water and cook to al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the noodles, toss with a small amount of olive oil and spread them flat on 2 sheet pans to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large 3-quart skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no pink is left, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In another large skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and crumbled, about 15 minutes. Drain off and discard any fat.

In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until browned and the onions are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add two jars of tomato sauce, the onion and garlic powders, seasoned salt and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the beef to the sauce, stir together and set aside. 

To assemble the lasagna, spread half of the beef and sauce mixture in the bottom of the baking pan followed by half of the ricotta cheese in a thin layer. Add half the sausage chunks, then 2 cups shredded mozzarella and a layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly. Repeat layering the same order once more. Top with the remaining jar of tomato sauce, then top completely with the thin slices of mozzarella.

Bake the lasagna until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve hot.

Basic garlic bread

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf Italian bread or ciabatta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until minced. Add the basil, butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper and process until it becomes a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.

Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through. Using a rubber spatula, spread the garlic-basil mixture on both halves. Put the bread back together like a sandwich and wrap tightly with foil.

Place the bread on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, then unwrap the bread and continue to bake until browned in spots, about 10 minutes more. Slice crosswise and serve warm.