1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes in puree
6 cups water
1 cup chopped fresh basil
2¼ tsp sugar, divided
1 tsp salt
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
4 Italian sausage links
1 carton (16 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
8 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 large egg, beaten
¼ tsp dried basil
12 sheets no cook lasagna noodles
21 slices provolone cheese
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a dutch oven, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, waater, fresh basil, 2 tsp sugar and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile cook bulk sausage in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking meat into crumbles, 8-10 minutes; drain. Add meat to sauce; simmer until mixture thickens; about 1 hour.
While sauce simmers, preheat oven to 350º. Place sausage links on a rimmed baking sheet; roast until cooked through, 35-40 minutes. Remove sausage and allow to cool slightly; slice into ¼" thick pieces.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, egg, dried basil and remaining sugar.
In a greased 13 X 9 baking dish, spread 2 cups sauce. Arrange four noodles over sauce; spread with a third of the ricotta mixture. Add seven slices of provolone, a third of the sausage liniks and 1½ cups mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers twice, using only 1 cup sauce per layer. Spread with 2 cups sauce (reserve any remaining sauce to serve on the side), the remaining 2½ cups of mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese.
Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until bubbly and deep golden brown, 60-65 minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining meat sauce.