How to fake lasagna
If you find yourself eating ricotta cheese with a spoon, you might be having lasagna withdrawal. Create this classic dish in a fraction of the time it takes to make the original. Add a layer of raw spinach leaves over the onion if you like spinach lasagna.
Step 1: Gather the ingredients
Pick these up at your favorite grocery store:
- 1 pound instant (no-cook) lasagna noodles
- 1 pound frozen diced onion-and-pepper mix
- 1 jar (24 ounces) pasta sauce with mushrooms, heated to just under a boil (keep hot)
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 pound ground beef, cooked
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 1 9-inch-square pan
- Aluminum foil
Step 2: Prepare for baking
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray the pan liberally with cooking spray to keep the lasagna from sticking.
Step 3: Start with hot foods
Lasagna really doesn't need to be cooked because, usually, all the ingredients have already been cooked when it's assembled. It just needs to be warmed through. Starting with hot ingredients shaves about 15 to 20 minutes from the cooking time.
Cook the ground beef. To make your lasagna prep even easier, cook extra ground beef as you prepare dinner earlier in the week. If it has been refrigerated, warm it up in a pan. Bring the pasta sauce just to a boil. Mix the ricotta, milk and Parmesan in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 4: Assemble the lasagna
Spoon about 1 cup of the hot pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan. Lay three uncooked noodles over the sauce — no need to overlap them, because they will stretch during baking.
Spoon half the ricotta mixture over the noodles, and then spread half the cooked meat over the ricotta. Sprinkle with half the thawed onion-and-pepper mixture and top with about one third of the shredded mozzarella. Spoon a cup of the pasta sauce over the layers and top with three more lasagna noodles.
Repeat the layers and add a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining pasta sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
Step 5: Bake until the house smells fabulous
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil during the last five minutes or so if the cheese isn't melting well. The aluminum foil holds in the steam from the cooking process and helps the lasagna noodles soften.
Let the lasagna stand on the counter for about five minutes to firm up before you cut it into nine servings.
For more household tips, check out:
Super Moms guide to cleaning & cooking for the family