When it comes to dinner, I often run out of steam, too worn out from the day to care much about what goes on everyone’s plates before bedding down for the night. Peanut butter and jelly are just fine with me. Whatever is effortless and makes the least mess is great–after all, it’s just the last step til dessert. There’s no need for fuss.
But every once in a while, I have this strong urge to fill the kitchen with dirty pots and pans in search of more filling fare. Never mind the fact that I will be the one to wash all those dishes later by hand–I can’t wait til the day I have a dishwasher! Caution is thrown to the wind and creativity reigns, trumping the usual strict recipe-adherence required by baking in favor of a more sensitive approach.
Tonight was one of those nights.
I had some bulk hot Italian sausage sitting in the fridge that needed to be used up and the kale I intended to pair with it wilted with neglect, being forgotten too long in the back. Plan B: lazy lasagna.
I don’t know why I call it that–it’s really no less labor-intensive than the real kind. You still have to cook the pasta, drain it, prepare all the other components, and layer them in the baking dish. The only time-saver is that I can just mix the pasta in with the meat sauce instead of having to lay out strips of lasagna. Regardless, even on a weeknight, this is quite manageable, with the benefit of leftovers providing lunch for the next day. You can even divide it between two 8×8 baking dishes and freeze one for a future dinner, if you so choose: there will be plenty for a family of 4 for two meals.
- 1 lb penne rigate pasta (or your choice of pasta), cooked al dente
- 1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage
- 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp dried oregano, divided
- 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp dried basil, divided
- 3 cups part-skim ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1 lb part-skim mozzarella, cut into 18 slices
- 2 cups Parmesan, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 13×9 baking dish and set aside.
Cook the penne rigate in salted boiling water to al dente per box directions. While the penne rigate is going, brown the sausage over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Drain the fat and add the crushed tomatoes, 1 Tbsp dried oregano, and 1 Tbsp dried basil. Stir and simmer til the pasta is done.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp dried basil, and half the Parmesan.
Drain the pasta and add it to the meat sauce, mixing thoroughly. Spread a thin layer of the pasta into the bottom of the 13×9 baking dish. Spread half the ricotta mix over the top and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat layers of pasta, ricotta, and mozzarella. Top with a 3rd layer of pasta, the last of the mozzarella, and the remaining Parmesan.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is evenly browned. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.