Monday, January 7, 2013

Taking it Easy: Skillet Lasagna

It has been a long time since I have posted here - and for good reason!  My husband took a very long vacation for Christmas and we have been enjoying our time together as a threesome.  After all, the next time he takes time off it will be in honor of the arrival of our new baby.  It was perfectly wonderful to "just be" for a small amount of time - nothing pressing to accomplish and nowhere terribly important to go.  We read a lot of books to Matthew, ate plenty of deliciously unhealthy food, danced around the living room to the Thomas the Tank Engine soundtrack, took family trips to the gym, and played in the 8-inches of snow we were blessed with just in time for Christmas day.  It was such a wonderful time but went by all too fast.  When Paul headed back to work, both Matthew and I were a little sad that the vacation was over.  Now my focus is to spend as much time with my little guy before my attention shifts to our newborn.

Have I mentioned that he is the ultimate goofball? We were unpacking baby things and he decided to don this outfit.

I have really been enjoying the more causal approach to life that we have been taking lately and plan to continue that until the baby is born.  I am starting to get more and more uncomfortable with standing for prolonged periods of time mainly because my lower back begins to ache.  Thus, quick family dinners that require minimal amounts of standing over a hot stove have been a must (risotto has definitely not been the meal of choice for a while).  A couple months ago, my sister-in-law posted a recipe for skillet lasagna.  I had seen many recipes pop up for skillet lasagna over the past few months, but after she posted it I could not get it out of my head.  I honestly hate assembling and eating lasagna because of the ricotta/cottage cheese layer in the middle.  It has been a major source of disappointment for my husband who is a huge lasagna lover.  However, with this skillet preparation, I could easily scoop out the noodles/red sauce/sausage and leave the ricotta/cottage cheese for the other two to eat.  Plus, you get all the flavors of a traditional lasagna on the table in around 30 minutes.  Win, win!

Excuse the nasty pictures.  I have a very hard time taking photos when all natural light disappears at 4:00 pm.

Skillet Lasagna
from Cook's Illustrated

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound hot Italian sausage
10 lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cottage cheese (do NOT use nonfat)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the diced tomatoes along with their juice to a 1 quart (4 cup) measuring cup. Add enough water to bring the volume to 1 quart total.

In a small bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Set in the fridge until ready to use.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the onion and the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the sausage, using a wooden spoon to break it apart. Cook until browned.

Add the broken noodles to the pan, but do not stir - just let them sit on top of the onion/sausage mixture. Pour the tomato/water mixture and the tomato sauce over the noodles (again, don't stir). Cover the pan and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, now stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 20 minutes).

Turn off the heat under the pan. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop the cottage cheese mixture by heaping spoonfuls onto the top of the lasagna (don't stir to incorporate), then cover and let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the cheese to soften. Remove the cover and sprinkle with the basil and additional Parmesan if desired.  Serve immediately.


  1. I've been thinking about making risotto in the oven. Have you ever tried? I heard about it on tv once. :)

  2. Thanks Eva! I will definitely be trying this recipe. I love me some good risotto...but yeah, the standing/stirring for 30-40 minutes gets very tiring! I'll let you know how it turns out!