Who doesn’t love lasagna? When it comes to lasagna, most people agree with Garfield the Cat. It’s delicious.
There’s sauce and cheese and pasta, sometimes meat, sometimes not, all layered and baked to perfection.
But as much fun as it is to eat lasagna, nobody likes to make it. It takes forever, all that boiling of noodles, and layering and then waiting for it to bake. And even if you’re in the mood to do the work, it simply takes too long on a work night.
The invention of no-boil noodles helped somewhat, but still there’s still all the layering and then waiting for it to bake.
Skillet lasagna solves everything. You prepare, cook and serve the whole dish in a skillet. One skillet. If it’s a cast-iron or other kind of oven-proof skillet, you can even run your skillet lasagna under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the cheese on top and you’ve got lasagna that checks off all the boxes for great taste in half the time. Some of the recipes below can be completed in a half hour. None take more than 45 minutes.
The secret is a slurpy sauce that has enough moisture for the dry noodles to absorb as they cook and still leave you with enough moisture for moist lasagna. Your skillet lasagna won’t be carefully layered when you’re done with it, but who cares. Layering is a lot of work with very little payoff.
You can break up your lasagna noodles so it’s easier to serve. After all, you won’t be cutting servings with a big spatula. You’ll probably just scoop it up with a spoon. Or just use bow tie pasta if you don’t mind your lasagna not looking like lasagna.
But be sure and use plenty of cheese. The key to lasagna is cheese. That doesn’t change regardless of your cooking method. One added advantage of quicker, easier lasagna is that it’s easier to experiment with something that you haven’t invested so much time in. Chicken lasagna? Veggie lasagna? White sauce lasagna? Give them a shot. Once you’re making lasagna in a half hour, you’re going to want it often so you’ll need options.
Your family will be munching down on their skillet lasagna before old-fashioned lasagna would be anywhere near ready to come out of the oven.
Weeknight Skillet Lasagna
This lasagna can be made vegetarian. Skip the sausage, use 1 pound of mushrooms rather than 8 ounces, and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Serves 4 to 6
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 med. yellow onion, diced
8 oz. uncooked Italian sausage, casings removed
8 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 (24- to 26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (about 3 cups)
1 -1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 oz. dry lasagna noodles (about 10)
1 cup cottage cheese (about 8 ounces), at room temperature
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarsely chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
If you’d like a browned lasagna top, heat the oven to broil and use an oven-safe skillet. Heat the oil in a 12-inch or larger regular or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sausage and cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the marinara and broth, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Using your hands, break the lasagna noodles into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces and add to the pan. Stir to combine and spread into an even layer, making sure as many of the noodles are submerged in liquid as possible. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer briskly uncovered (small bubbles all over), stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes (add water 1/4 cup at a time as needed if the noodles have absorbed all the liquid before they’re cooked). Make sure the noodles are always submerged in sauce. A minute or 2 before the noodles are ready, dollop the cottage cheese over the lasagna with a small spoon and do not stir anymore. Taste and season with salt as needed. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let sit until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, for a browned top, place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is golden-brown in spots.) Sprinkle with the parsley if using and serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Skillet Veggie Lasagna
Takes a total of 40 minutes, 10 to prep and 30 to cook.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 small red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 whole uncooked lasagna noodles, each broken into 3-4 pieces
1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 oz. mozzarella ball, torn into pieces (or 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella)
toppings: shredded fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan, extra crushed red peppers
Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the carrot, red bell pepper, and zucchini, and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender and the onion is soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Add in the lasagna noodles on top of the veggies in an even layer. Then pour the pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes, and red pepper flakes evenly on top of them. Gently toss the noodles so that they are completely coated in the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, giving the entire mixture a gentle but thorough stirring every few minutes, until the noodles are al dente. Set your oven to “broil”. Gently stir in the ricotta cheese until it is mostly combined. Then sprinkle the torn (or shredded) mozzarella evenly on top of the lasagna mixture. Broil for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden on top. (Or, if you want to make this 100% on the stovetop, you can also cover your pan with a lid for 4-5 minutes and let the steam melt the cheese.) Remove and serve immediately, topped with shredded basil, Parmesan and extra crushed red pepper if desired.
Skillet Chicken Lasagna
Takes 45 minutes to prepare. 8 servings
12 oz. bow tie pasta
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced or diced
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence
1 med. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 jar marinara sauce (14 to 16 ounces)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, plus more if needed
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, plus more if needed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more if needed and for serving
12 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade or chopped, plus more if needed and for serving
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions; drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the Italian seasoning and some salt. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the same skillet and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth, then scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen the bits. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes to let the broth reduce. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the drained pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan and basil. Add the cooked chicken on top. Toss to combine, then add more of the mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan or basil until the sauce is just how you like it. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a little basil on top.
Sausage and Spinach Skillet Lasagna
1 pound ground Italian sausage
One large onion, finely chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1-24-oz. containers spaghetti sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. granulated garlic
12 oz. dried lasagna noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces – bite size
2 handfuls or 2 cups of fresh baby spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese on top when serving.
In a extra large skillet or dutch oven, cook ground sausage. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning and cook for a minute. Next, pour in the chicken broth and spaghetti sauce. Break the lasagna noodles 1- inch pieces, add them to the skillet. Add two handfuls of fresh spinach. Next, cook down until most of the liquid is gone and the noodles are done. Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta cheese over the pasta. Add the mozzarella cheese over the top of everything. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Last, When serving sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.