Skillet Lasagna

The alternative title for this post was “How Not to Dirty Every Dish I Own”, as that seems to be the general plan whenever I make lasagna.  Get out the sauce pan, the cutting board, the tomato smashing tools, the garlic press, the big pot for the noodles, the strainer to dump the noodles in, the bowl to mix the cheeses, the various spoons and such for dealing with all the things that are going in the pots and bowls…the pan for the lasagna.  Then quick, while it is bubbling away in the oven, wash everything.  Then get out more dishes for the salad, the garlic bread and the dinner plates.  That would be why I have not made lasagna in, ummmm, well I can’t remember how long.  It an exhausting dish to clean up around.

But much like Garfield, I love lasagna.  I kept thinking that there had to be a better way around this until I can afford a lackey whose sole job was to do dishes behind me, the poor unlucky future bastard.  I have been tinkering around with some versions of this skillet lasagna.  This is my favorite, and last night was the final tinkering: fresh mozzarella or shredded.  I made the dish and melted half and half.  The fresh mozzarella not only looked better but it won on taste hands down.  My family has had a long-standing argument about the ricotta vs cottage cheese in lasagna.  Over the years we have come to a compromise in mixing half and half.  If you prefer one or the other, go nuts, my recipe is what I make to keep the odd cottage cheese folks happy.  I won’t say I eliminated all of the dishes, but less than a sink full when all was said and done is a victory to me.

Skillet Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 12 ounces of mafalda noodles (think miniature lasagna noodles, go ahead and substitute-I don’t judge)
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced thin
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese for topping
  • Fresh basil leaves for topping
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a 12 inch skillet, cook onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add pepper flakes and heat for another minute.
  2. Add ground beef to skillet and brown, breaking beef into crumbles.  Once fully cooked, spoon off most, but not all, of the fat.
  3. While beef is cooking, stir together crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Italian season in a large bowl.
  4. In an even layer, add noodles on top of the beef and pour tomato mixture over the top of the noodles.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low-medium.  I occasionally need to add a bit more water from time to time, but usually there is enough moisture in the tomato sauce to cook the noodles to al dente.  Add salt/pepper to taste to the sauce.
  5. Mix the cottage cheese with the ricotta in a small bowl.  Once the noodles are al dente, drop spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese mix onto the lasagna.  I like to drag the spoon through like you do when creating a swirl in a cake.  It spreads it around a bit but not too much where you lose the taste by spreading too thin.
  6. Scatter the pieces of fresh mozzarella over the top of the lasagna and cover with a lid for about 5 minutes.
  7. Chiffonade the basil and add it with the shredded Parmesan to the top and enjoy.
  8. Find someone to do the dishes:)
Left side fresh, right side bagged.  Fresh is the best.

Left side fresh, right side bagged. Fresh is the best.