Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Easy Recipe of the Week: Lasagna

Extra-Easy Lasagna

3/4 pound ground beef (or turkey)
3 cups marinara sauce (recipe calls for Prego Traditional)
6 dry lasagna noodles
1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz. package)
Fresh or chopped frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)
1/4 cup water
  1. Cook meat until browned; stir to separate. Spoon/drain off fat.
  2. Add marinara sauce; heat through; stir often.
  3. In 2-quart oblong dish (this is smaller then a 9x13 baking dish), spread 1 1/2 cups of marinara mixture (half the mixture) on bottom of dish.
  4. If using fresh spinach, mix into ricotta by using a food processor. If using chopped frozen spinach, mix defrosted and drained mix in with the ricotta cheese using a fork.
  5. Top with 3 noodles, half the ricotta and half the mozzarella cheese.
  6. Repeat with 3 more noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and cheese (leave a small amount of mozzarella out to use on top).
  7. Top with remaining marinara mixture and sprinkle with small amount of mozzarella cheese.
  8. Slowly pour 1/4 cup water around the inside edge of the dish and cover.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.
  10. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  • Find ways to alter this recipe for variety and varying tastes. Last night I used sweet Italian Sausage, which everyone (including my 2 1/2 year-old) liked. Often I use the Traditional Prego sauce, but sometimes I use the Trader Joe's Vodka Marinara Sauce, which provides a creamy taste and consistency. Add lots of spinach if you like. Add less or no spinach if you like. Play around with it, be creative and find ways to get healthy foods into your families bellies. You can throw nearly anything into a food processor with the ricotta and most will never know.
  • Although this recipe doesn't take long to make, you can eliminate the dinner-time chaos by making this in advance and then just cooking it an hour before it's time to eat. This is necessary for those who work outside the home and don't have time to make and bake the dish after work. Make the recipe as indicated above; however, leave out the water until you are ready to cook it. Yesterday morning I made the lasagna and then covered it and wrote a reminder on the top to add 1/4 cup water (I've forgotten to add the water before). When I got home at 5:30 p.m. I added the water, put the foil back on and stuck it in the over. A delicious dinner was on the table by 6:30 p.m. (including some warm bread I stuck in the oven while the lasagna was cooling and a Cesar salad from a bag.
  • Enjoy a no-brainer dinner night as a result of making this dish. Depending on your family size, you should end up with plenty of lasagna left over for an easy, no-brainer meal the next night. Or freeze the remaining to use over the next few weeks when you don't want to cook.

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