Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quick Dinner - Mock Lasagna

Back in October, we picked out a recipe from one of our old cookbooks that looked like a quick easy meal and wound up with a quick tasty meal that we've made a couple of times since. We love a good lasagna (who doesn't?), but don't ever take the time to make one. This has become a easy substitute.

Mock Lasagna
From "Hearty Family Favorites" (Time-Life Books).
1 Medium Onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 Italian sausage
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound Farfalle (aka bow tie pasta)
15 ounce can crushed tomato (or diced in juice/puree works, too)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups grated part-skim mozzerella

1) Preheat the oven to 400.
2) Bring a large pot of water to a boil (for the pasta).
3) Coarsely chop the onion.
4) Remove the sausage form the casing (if using link sausage).
5) Crumble the sausage meat into a medium skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink.
6) Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 3-4 minutes.
7) Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente per package instructions.
8) Meanwhile, Add the tomato paste, crushed/diced tomatoes (including juice), bay leaf, basil, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to Low, cover it and simmer for 10 minutes.
9) Drain the pasta.
10) Remove the bay leaf from the sauce.
11) Assemble the dish - Cover the bottom of an 8-inch baking dish with 1/3 of the sauce. Top the sauce with 1/2 of the pasta and half of the mozzarella. Top the cheese with 1/2 of the remaining sauce and all of the remaining pasta. Top the pasta with the remianing sauce and cheese.
12) Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

I like to let the cheese brown just a bit. I also add some seasoning (basil/oregano) to the top layer of cheese.

Step 6: Browning the sausage, garlic and onion

Step 8: added the tomatoes and seasonings
(yup, that's the bay leaf in the center)

Step 11: first stage, sauce and pasta layers

Step 11: Assembly complete and ready for the oven

The end of step 12: Out of the oven and ready to eat!

Quick and easy - a decent meal in under 40 minutes.


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