I have made lasagna before,lots of times.I'm no expert but the recipe I use all the time is a pretty fantastic stand-by and has pleased many a dinner guest.I plan my afternoon or night around it,whatever time of day I know it will take a while.I get out this big pot,get the water boiling and drop in the noodles.While the noodles are cooking,I brown my beef/sausage mixture for the rich tomato,meat sauce. If I'm moving with any kind of quickness that day,I have all my ingredients all prepped and just waiting to take the stage.Oh for some quickness.I tell you who had quickness and didn't bat an eye at on a busy weeknight,my dad.
My dad could whip up a dinner for two hungry teenage girls on any given weeknight and still be funny all at the same time.My sister and I had our TV shows we caught up on while my dad pulled together a nourishing and filling dinner. We'd catch up with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Dwayne Wayne and Whitley on A Different World. He'd catch up with the folks at National Public Radio,steam some broccoli and stir together his famous carrot salad. The three of us would sit down to a home-cooked,made-with-love dinner.It was time to review the days events,upcoming happenings during the week ahead and it was simply time to see each other.
I look back at those days and wonder how he did it.He worked hard at the family furniture business all day,still found the energy to make us dinner and throw out a few jokes in between bites.Parents all around the world make dinner for their families every night and do it all over again with love the next night.I know when I have a family and I got mouths to feed I will have this recipe in my back pocket,skillet lasagna.
I got ready to make this recipe and as I have done so many times before I got out the big pot,filled it up with water,ready to boil some lasagna noodles. Well hang on just one minute here,I don't need this big ol' pot and I sho don't need this water. You could've fooled me.I reread the recipe again. It was just that, skillet lasagna,all of the cooking done in the skillet. Huh... clever.So I poured out the water,dried and put away the big ol' pot and really got to cookin'. You soften the onions and garlic,brown the meat,throw in the tomatoes,break apart the lasagna noodles throw them in on top of the whole thing,cover and cook for about 20 minutes. It's just that simple and I know my dad would love this one.I'll wait a few years from now and on a busy weeknight invite him over for dinner. We'll all sit around the table catch up on the days events and just see each other. It's just that simple.
adapted from the coolest over at America's Test Kitchen
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 TBL olive oil
1 medium onion,minced
3 medium garlic cloves,minced or presser through
a garlic press (about 1TBL total)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb meatloaf mixture (this can consist of beef,pork and veal.I used
1/2 lb ground beef and 1/2 lb ground pork)
10 curly-edged lasagna noodles,broken into
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 c plus 2 TBL grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper
1 c ricotta cheese
3 TBL chopped fresh basil (if not available,3 tsp dried basil)
1. Pour the tomatoes with the juices in a 1-quart (4cup) liquid measuring cup. Add water until the mixture measures 1 quart.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-sitck skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until the onion begins to brown,about minutes.Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant,about 30 seconds. Add the ground meat and cook,breaking apart the meat,until no longer pink about 4 minutes.
3. Scatter the pasta pieces over the meat but do not stir. Pour the diced tomatoes with their juices and tomato sauce over the pasta. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer,stirring occasionally,until the pasta is tender,about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons of the ricotta,cover and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan and chopped basil.. Serve. Enjoy.