Wednesday, September 11, 2013

skillet lasagna

I love food. I love comfort food. I love easy-to-make comfort food.

This skillet lasagna recipe is so easy, so comforting, and so good that I'm not sure why I didn't think of it sooner. We traditionally don't make full pans of lasagna (there are only two people in our household afterall!) but instead make lasagna roll-ups. While I do love those, I wanted something even easier last night. With 95+ degree weather, I wanted a home-cooked meal without the time or heat. Transforming lasagna into a skillet-friendly and almost casserole-like meal was the perfect solution. I have a feeling I will be making this version more often!

Skillet Lasagna

What You Need
8 oz. lasagna noodles (ended up being half a box worth)
olive oil, for the skillet
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 lb. ground beef
3/4 jar of store-bought arrabiata sauce (It had a spicy zing to it, which I liked. You could certainly go with marinara or something similar though!)
1/4 jar of store-bought alfredo sauce
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 small container cottage cheese (we do not usually do ricotta, so this is our alternative)
salt, pepper, and basil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Boil salted water in a pot for your lasagna noodles. Before adding the noodles to the boiling water, break noodles into halves or thirds. Cook noodles according to package.

While your noodles begin to cook, take your oven-safe skillet (ours happened to be our monstrous cast iron skillet) and drizzle in olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in your diced onion and let it sweat for a few minutes. Then add in your minced garlic and let those flavors blend with the onion. Add in your green pepper and let all three ingredient cook down and become more flavorful. 

<I chopped the onion and tossed it in. While it started to do its thing, I'd prep the next ingredient and add it in. While that was doing its thing, I'd prep the next ingredient. This worked well in terms of multi-tasking and giving each of the ingredients enough time to cook.>

When the lasagna noodles are done, remove from heat and drain. Set aside for a few minutes.

Salt and pepper your ground beef and then add it to your skillet, breaking it up with a spatula for 5-6 minutes until browned. After your ground beef is browned, drain any excess fat you might have. Begin to add in your sauce to the skillet. I liked the idea of mixing two sauces, so that's what I did. I'd add some spoonfuls of the arrabiata sauce and then a spoonful of the alfredo and then stir. The sauce amount is an approximation and depends on how you like it, so add enough sauce till you think it looks good to you.

Begin adding in your noodles to the skillet and begin combining all your ingredients. It should start to look like a slightly messy lasagna dish. If it looks too dry, add in more sauce.

Once combined, add shredded mozzarella to cover the top of the dish. Plop spoonfuls of cottage cheese gracefully on top. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, and basil, to taste.

Pop in the 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Pulling this out of the oven and being able to scoop it directly into a bowl brought me no greater joy on a Tuesday night. It was lasagna without being lasagna, you know? Jacob added some fresh spinach leaves to his afterwards for some extra greens. We served this up with Caesar salads and it was just the kind of comfort I was looking for. 

If you end up trying this, let me know what you think! Have you transformed a time-consuming dish into something more simple with the same intended results? Let me know, as I'm always looking for new recipes and shortcuts!

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