Lazy Day Lasagna

After October 31st it seems like the holidays and celebrations fill the calendar. It’s a fast ride from here to the New Year.  The holidays bring out family and cultural traditions. During holiday dinners Italians and Italian Americans usually serve a pasta dish before serving the main course. People were preparing food for days. When I was growing up our pasta dish was either lasagna or ravioli. 

Since there’s always a lot of details to meals during the holidays, this is a simple version of lasagna to try. My Italian friends and family may wince at this statement, but lasagna doesn’t have to be made with béchamel sauce all the time, although that version of lasagna is great too! 

Why am I making lasagna today? Well, in my life, one ingredient always leads to another. What I mean by this is –  I needed to make ricotta, and had tomatoes from the garden that needed to be used (the last of them and it’s December 1!!). So when I have ricotta cheese and tomatoes it just naturally transforms into an Italian dish of some sort. 

I didn’t have the energy today to make fresh pasta noodles for lasagna, so I cheated and used boxed Barilla. I loved seeing the Barilla factory in Italy a few years ago so when I use boxed pasta, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. 

Constructing the lasagna layer by layer.

Step one: Spoon sauce in the bottom of the lasagna dish.

Step two: Layer pasta sheets with cheese mixture, another pasta sheet, meat mixture, and sauce. Repeat.

Often I have a few pieces of lasagna noodles leftover so I have several ways I use up these sheets.

1. Break them up and put into a soup.

2. Roll up with any leftover cheese or meat mixture and add sauce. Makes nice extra meal or two for a couple of kids or light eater. If you don’t have any leftover filling ingredients, roll up with sliced provolone and salami, or whatever meats and cheese you have in the fridge. Top with mozzarella and sauce and cook like lasagna. 

3.  Give it to the dog? Our dog Cuffy loves pasta raw or cooked and he is always the recipient of any pieces of pasta that don’t make it into a dish. 

Serves 6

Easy Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 cup mozzarella shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped or minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • Olive oil for sautéing garlic and onions
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 sheets lasagna noodles
  • 1 quart of sauce (homemade or store bought jar)

Instructions

  1. .....Make Cheese Filling.....
  2. Sauté garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Cool.
  3. Mix ricotta, parmesan, and 1/2 of the mozzarella, eggs, herbs, and cooled garlic and onion.
  4. .....Assemble Lasagna.....
  5. Spray 9 X 12 baking dish with cooking oil.
  6. Ladle small amount of sauce in dish and spread out to cover bottom.
  7. Lay in 3 lasagna noodles. These might overlap slightly depending on your dish size.
  8. Add a layer of cheese mixture, spread over pasta.
  9. Layer 3 more lasagna noodles.
  10. Add 1/2 of the ground beef.
  11. Ladle sauce over meat mixture.
  12. Layer 3 more lasagna noodles.
  13. Repeat until dish is filled.
  14. Spoon remaining sauce on top.
  15. Cook at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.
  16. Sprinkle 1/2 mozzarella cheese over top about half way through cooking.

Notes

A box of lasagna noodles typically has 18 sheets. You can easily cut this recipe in half. When I do, I use a square baking dish so it makes as many layers with less ingredients. If fresh herbs are not available, dried works well too. If you run out of sauce while assembling lasagna, add a little pasta water to sauce. TIP: Before placing the lasagna in the oven, put your filled lasagna dish on a cookie sheet lined with foil. This saves any overages of sauce in the cookie sheet.

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Nutrition

Calories: 833 cal
Carbohydrates: 94 g
Fat: 29 g
Sodium: 406 g
Cholesterol: 169 g
Protein: 47 g
Fiber: 5 g
 

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