A few years ago I made lasagna for the first time (it was a slightly modified version of this recipe from The Pioneer Woman), and in doing so, I created a monster. A lasagna monster that is, and his name is Shane :) He didn't remember ever having had lasagna prior to that, and he fell in love with the dish immediately. For the longest time I couldn't solicit his opinion on dinner for the coming week without the word lasagna appearing somewhere in the answer.
Don't get me wrong, he wasn't the only one who enjoyed that lasagna, but the recipe made so much food we'd be eating the leftovers for days and days (and days!), and eventually I needed a break. It's also one of those recipes that leaves you with a big stack of dirty dishes in the sink, and I think we can all agree that washing dishes is the pits. Seriously, does anyone actually enjoy that task? But anyway, the result has been that over time I've almost completely stopped making lasagna, and frankly, I feel a little bit guilty about it. Nothing like getting someone hooked on a dish and then deciding you were completely over it...
A compromise was in order, and in this skillet lasagna I've found it. This is a lasagna made entirely in one pan, in less than an hour - a total win-win in my book! And, as if that wasn't reason enough to love this meal, it also yields a manageable amount of food. We had it for dinner one night, and I think I ate the leftovers for lunch for a few days afterward. This is the third or fourth recipe I've tried that called for cooking the pasta directly in the same pan with the other ingredients, and though I was skeptical at first, I've grown quite fond of the technique. Shane and I both agreed this freeform lasagna has all the flavor of a traditional lasagna - you won't miss a thing!
And just for fun, because I know it'll make him smile, a few photos of Shane from his half marathon yesterday. He scored a new PR finishing in 1:37:29 - another great stepping stone to his goal of qualifying for the Boston marathon in the next year or two! He's also training to compete in his first Ironman later this summer (he's done the 70.3, but never the full) - it's going to be a busy year here. All of this training may also help to explain that incredible metabolism I referenced the other day :)
barely adapted from Cook's Country's Skillet Suppers
A few notes on this one:
- The recipe calls for meatloaf mix, but feel free to use any ground meat you like - they'll all work.
- You can use regular or no-boil lasagna noodles. If you go with the regular, they'll have a very slight bite to them.
- A nonstick pan was suggested, but I don't have a cover for mine, so I used my regular stainless steel pan and didn't have any issues. Just be sure to stir occasionally as the pasta cooks so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal)
10 lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Add the diced tomatoes along with their juice to a 1 quart (4 cup) measuring cup. Add enough water to bring the volume to 1 quart total.
Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the onion and the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the meat, using a wooden spoon to break it apart. Cook until the meat is browned.
Add the broken noodles to the pan, but do not stir - just let them sit on top of the onion/meat mixture. Pour the tomato/water mixture and the tomato sauce over the noodles (again, don't stir). Cover the pan and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, now stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 20 minutes).
Turn off the heat under the pan. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop the ricotta by heaping spoonfuls onto the top of the lasagna (don't stir to incorporate), then cover and let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the cheese to soften. Remove the cover and sprinkle with the basil and remaining Parmesan, then serve.