RECIPE #389, DAY #565
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Real-Life Lasagna,” from Mills’s and Ross’s Desperation Dinners*
TIMING: 20 minutes
TOOLS: A wide deep saute pan with a lid
COOK TYPE: Stovetop
HEALTH: Generally, you want to limit your pasta intake, at least if you have issues with wanting to eat it for every meal, like me. Or maybe, for you, this wisdom could apply to cheese. This is a fine supper, for a busy night with the family stretched in five different directions. You have your meat protein, cheese protein, grain (although it is refined), and vegetables. And actually, this meal could do with more veggies. What do you like in your lasagna? Some eggplant? Zucchini? Spinach? Add it in there, or serve this with a big, green salad.
EXPERIENCE: I had made this before, but judging from my notes, I was not too enthused about it. Yet, it was so tempting to try again, for ease and general crave. Then, upon putting the first fork-full in my mouth, I remembered the issues. Because of the quick cook time, the ground beef tastes flat and the tomatoes taste distractingly tinny. However, there are 2 substitutions that would solve this completely: bulk Italian sausage and jarred marinara sauce. It might cost an extra buck a serving or something, but it would redeem this otherwise super-disappointing recipe.
Of course, kids love this any way. It’s not guest food.
NOTES: I use Newman’s Own Marinara, or one of the variations, like Basil or Sockarooni. And normally I do not like my tomato sauce to be sweet, but for this week night lasagna, it just fits.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Break 8 ounces lasagna noodles into chunks, then cook according to package directions. Do not overcook.
- Meanwhile, in a deep wide saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion (and optional diced red bell pepper) and cook until onion is translucent. Add 2 pressed cloves of garlic (and optional half-moon cut zucchini and/or 8 ounces sliced button mushrooms) and stir 30 seconds.
- Push the veggies out to the rim of the pan and add 3/4 pound bulk Italian sausage, breaking up until browned. Add 1 jar marinara, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 cup milk and stir. Reduce heat and simmer just until your pasta is done.
- Add the pasta with 1/4 cup pasta water. Taste for salt, pepper, and sugar.
- Add 1 generous cup cottage cheese and 1 cup grated mozzarella (and optional 1 cup baby spinach). Stir just until marbled, then stop. Sprinkle another 1 cup grated mozzarella over top, then cover. Let sit just until the cheese has melted nicely. Remove from heat and serve right away.
Serve with a nice, big, green salad with an Italian vinaigrette. Feel free to top the lasagna with basil chiffonade and Parmesan.
LEFTOVER IDEAS: This kind of seizes when it’s left over, but if you just set it in a pan, sprinkle it with water, and cover it with foil, you can bake it back to life.
*Recipe changed from the original.