Thursday, August 4, 2011

Skillet Lasagna for Hot Summer Nights

This morning, the deejay on the radio said that the temperature today was going to be 3, 126 degrees with a heat index of 5,000. For some reason I found this hilarious and people from other cars looked at me funny as I laughed in the car by myself. I think it is the heat. It’s making us all nuts around here. I must be crazy, because despite the oppressive heat, I decided to make skillet lasagna last night. Well, once we were settled into our air conditioned cocoon of an apartment, we found it to be quite a lovely dinner. It would probably be better in colder temps, but if you are looking for something yummy like right now, you should try this.

I love Italian food, but have a confession to make. I have never actually made my own red sauce from scratch. This is what I usually use:

Shocking, no?
Well, I did make my own super easy sauce for this meal last night, but if you want you can use a jarred sauce. I won’t tell.

So here is what you need:

Skillet Lasagna

• 1 lb turkey sausage (or use ground meat of your choice)
• 6 oz can tomato paste
• 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
• 3-4 oz red wine (optional)—I used cabernet blend
• ½ cup water
• 8 oz. lasagna noodles (you could use any noodles, but then it wouldn’t be lasagna)
• 8-10 oz ricotta cheese
• ¼ cup grated parmesan
• ¾-1 cup shredded cheese (I used parmesan)
• A few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
• 1 tbsp olive oil (not pictured)
• 4 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp of prepared garlic—like the one in the picture)
• ½ tbsp Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Hmmm, I said in my last post that I don’t like recipes with more than 10 ingredients, and this actually has more. Don’t let that deter you. A lot of this is seasonings and stuff you have on hand. If you use a jarred sauce, you just need sauce, meat, pasta and cheese—see. Simple.

Heat your skillet on medium and pour in oil. Then dump in garlic. Let this cook for a minute or two.
Add the wine, tomato paste, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
Then add crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
Boil some water in a separate pot and cook your pasta to al dente (I’d say about 7 or 8 minutes). Then drain it.
Dump that pasta in your skillet with your sauce. Add spinach and stir around until wilted. (This step made me feel like Lidia Bastianich—she’s awesome at pasta).
Ok, at this point, I realized my skillet (which is my largest skillet) was too small to comfortably stir this stuff, so I dumped it in a casserole dish and finished these last steps. If you have adequately sized skillets, just keep your stuff in the skillet.
In small bowl combine ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper. Add by the spoonful to your lasagna and then sprinkle your shredded cheese on.
If you are still in the skillet, heat stove on low, put a top on it until the cheese is melted. If you are in a casserole dish (like me), pop it in the oven for 400 degrees until melty (just took a few minutes).
Here it is:

Pretty, huh? Pretend it is in a skillet, ok?
So this is kind of like a shortcut to the baked lasagna. Turned out really yummy and could probably serve 4-6 hungry people.
Enjoy this lasagna with crusty bread and veggies. And some wine. It’s always helpful to cook with the same wine that you would drink. Not sure where I heard this, but I’ll drink to it. Cheers!

A quick note to all my lactose intolerant brethren: I read somewhere online (probably on some reliable source like Wikipedia) that ricotta does not cause digestive issues because of like the process in which they make it. Also, aged cheeses like parmesan may not bother your tummy either. Life is grand when you can eat cheese.

Recipe adapted from:

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