Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Skillet Lasagna -- in a flash!

Well, look at that!  This is my second "Skillet" Recipe in one week.   With darkness coming so early, that precludes any grilled dinners on work night.  I'm grateful that my brain and sleepy head is enjoying that extra hour of sleep in the morning, because I'm just not an early riser.

My stomach hasn't quite figured out that feeding time has been pushed back an hour, though.  Monday night, I came home famished. I wanted to eat-- now. That's when Skillet Dinners can be a lifesaver.

I'm revisiting the recipes in this cookbook, that includes all of America's Test Kitchen recipes over the last ten years.  In my last post, I shared the Skillet Tamale Pie.  This time, I had a hankering for lasagna, without all the fuss.

I've made many versions of Skillet Lasagna, over the years. Usually, it involves browning ground beef, adding bottled spaghetti sauce, water and broken lasagna noodles. Then, you add some ricotta cheese and dinner is ready. Of course, there's the slow cooker version, that uses "no boil" lasagna noodles and bottled spaghetti sauce. Good, but ho-hum.

Could America's Test Kitchen develop a Skillet recipe, that doesn't use bottled spaghetti sauce? I watched the video and read the recipe.  The recipe seemed simple enough.  The ingredient list isn't too complicated, either: A blend of ground beef and pork (or an unseasoned meatloaf mix), ten regular lasagna noodles, a large can of diced tomatoes, a small can of tomato sauce, onion, garlic and ricotta cheese.

I had Italian sausage and ground beef, so I improvised a bit and used a combination of the two. Once I browned the meat, I added one chopped onion and cooked until just starting to brown, then combined the onon and meat, added the garlic.   For the liquid, you need a total of four cups of undrained diced tomatoes and water.

I added some red pepper flakes into the meat mixture and then evenly spread out the broken lasagna pieces (about 2" or  3" long)
Then the tomatoes are added, and one small can of tomato sauce. This is where ATK's ingredients ends.

Somehow, I felt that there needed to be a little more seasoning, so I added a generous tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (that I mix up, myself).   I gently pushed around the noodles to make sure they were covered in liquid-- I had to add just a little bit more water to accomplish that.

I brought the noodles and mixture and gave it a simmer for the recommended 20 minutes-- until the noodles were tender.
CHALLENGE: I'm not gonna lie-- I had a bit of a soupy lasagna and I was not going to stand for that!  With the lid off, I gave this ten more minutes of cooking time-- hoping the liquid would reduce. At last, the noodles seemed perfectly al dente, but I still had too much liquid.  I placed the lid back on the skillet, and then carefully drained most of the liquid down the sink.

I love Ricotta cheese, so I added some generous mounds of it.  It kind of looks like ice cream, doesn't it?

Per the recipe, I then sprinkled 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese.  You know what? I love cheese on my lasagna.  I usually keep a bag of Quattro Formagio Cheese (from Trader Joe's) on hand.  It has Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and Provolone.

So, spread an even layer of the whole skillet recipe-- and guess what?  The cheese didn't melt.
3 minutes under the broiler did the trick.  Sadly, our garden basil is finished, or I would have added plenty of it.

From start to finish, the whole meal took 45 minutes to prepare-- plus I cleaned up the mess, while the lasagna was cooking.  Let's eat!
TASTING NOTES:  I have to pat myself on the back, for adding more seasoning to the recipe.  The Italian seasoning kicked up the flavor, and I really liked that I increased the red pepper flakes from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon.  The sausage gave the meat filling a great texture, too.   The ricotta and Four-Cheese blend made this skillet lasagna a satisfying pasta dinner.   The next day, the lasagna tasted even better, when reheated.  My son raved about it, and I admit that I enjoyed noshing on some leftovers during my lunch break.  I applaud America's Test Kitchen for creating a recipe that doesn't need bottled spaghetti sauce-- and I always have diced tomatoes and tomato sauce on hand. However, ATK,  you need to bump up the seasoning a whole lot more-- or this could be on the bland side.
You're welcome.

Oh, and I think "I'm good" for skillet recipes for a while.  I'm hankering for a good pot roast or braised brisket-- just as soon as we get our first good rainfall of the season.  It's been in the 80's for the last few days. I do appreciate the sunshine, but I'm ready to hear the crackling of a roaring fire and making some hot chocolate.

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.

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TKW said...

My freakshow kids won't eat lasagna. Who doesn't like lasagna? I'd love this!

Katherine - Real Food Runner said...

THis looks so yummy!

Joanne said...

Ever since I made my lasagna soup, I've been dreaming of quick-and-easy lasagna..and this is totally the solution!

Noodle restaurant Brisbane said...

Those lasagnas looks wonderful and tasty, perfect combo!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

TKW's comment reminded me of my own childhood. I hated lasagne as a kid. I had a weird prejudice against melted cheese.

Thank goodness I got over it, so I can eat this now,

Karen said...

I love lasagna, but making a whole pan for 2 people is ridiculous. I'll have to try this smaller skillet recipe... looks good!