Weeknight lasagna

lasagna

I wonder when exactly Mondays got so crazy, as I frantically grab this and that from an over-stuffed freezer and our buckling, hand-me-down bookshelf/pantry.  This isn’t life as I pictured it — you know, the one where I get to come home after the end of an eight hour workday, cook a quick, idyllic dinner, and do something fun for the rest of the night. Yes, I watched too much 1950’s television when I was a kid. I should have known better.

Artichoke hearts

Mondays are getting worse, too, as the semester progresses and I start thinking of getting a serious start on my dissertation. And so, my posts grow shorter and less frequent, my pictures become a little less careful, and really, it’s probably for the better. My cooking suffers, too, as I spend my tiny bit of spare time on just the basic necessities (yogurt, bread, granola, vegetables wherever I can possibly stuff them). All those recipes I’m dying to try disappear, in favor of dishes that can be assembled quickly and shoved in the oven, forgotten, while I attend to other things.

Spinach mix for lasagna

This recipe? It’s from this Monday. It was assembled in haste, with on-the-spot substitutions and a little help from Trader Joe’s. But it was good nonetheless. The best part? There are leftovers, which can be consumed or frozen as you see fit.

Lasagna with artichoke hearts, spinach, and Italian sausage

Makes 9 meal-sized squares of lasagna.

This takes about 20 minutes to assemble, if you make your sauce from scratch, and about 50 minutes to bake. I placed it in a 9″x9″ casserole dish, which made things more difficult when layering lasagna noodles (clearly designed for another pan size) but was easier than digging out another pan.

  • 1 package no-bake lasagna noodles.
  • 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes.
  • 12 oz. can cherry tomatoes (with chili, if you like). Alternately, just use the same amount of San Marzanos; I used these because I knew I’d only need a bit more sauce, and didn’t want to open another big can of San Marzanos.
  • 1 t. salt.
  • 2 t. dried oregano.
  • 4 cloves garlic.
  • 1 package frozen spinach. You’ll need about 1-1/2 c. cooked spinach in the end.
  • 4 oz. mushrooms (~1/2 a packet), sliced.
  • 2 shallots, minced.
  • 5 Italian chicken sausages. You can use less if you like; I just used up a whole package because I could.
  • 1/2 c. dry port or 1/2 c. dry red wine. Use whatever’s in your fridge. If you don’t have either, 1 T. balsamic vinegar will help.
  • 6 garlic chives, sliced into 1″ pieces, optional. (It’s Monday, so I use whatever I really should have used over the weekend).
  • 1 12 oz. can artichoke hearts. I used the TJ’s version, which worked well.
  • 2 – 3 c. grated cheese. A mix of mozzarella and asiago or ricotta salata works best. I added cheddar in the mix this time because I could have sworn we had more mozzarella in the fridge when I walked right by the corner grocery store.
  • 2-3 T. olive oil.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using a hand blender, blend tomatoes, salt, garlic, and oregano together until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, just mince the garlic, throw the ingredients together, and mix.

Take the sausage out of the casings, crumble into chunks, and cook in a tablespoon or so of oil over medium heat until slightly browned. Set aside.

In another frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over high heat, add minced shallots, and cook for a minute or so. Add the sliced mushrooms, and cook, stirring rapidly, until they start to sweat. Add the wine or port, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for another minute, still stirring. Add the spinach and cook until the mixture is heated thoroughly.  Add in the garlic chives, cook for 1 minute more, and set aside.

Open the can of artichoke hearts and drain. (This irks me for some dark and food-snobby reason. Seriously, I should just get over it already.)

Oil a 9″x9″ baking tin. Place one layer of noodles on the bottom, cover completely with sauce, and then layer the spinach mix, sausage, artichoke hearts, cheese, and noodles as you please. Just keep in mind that you need to make sure the noodles are covered in sauce, or they’ll be a bit crunchy when they’re done. I like to make sure there’s a layer of cheese on top, so it’s nice and bubbly.

Bake for 50-60 minutes (check on the early side to make sure your cheese isn’t burning; if it is, tent it with foil), or until a knife goes through all the layers easily and comes out hot to the touch. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, and serve.  This is pretty much a one-dish meal

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Weeknight lasagna

  1. Am such a lasagna fan – I feel like there are so many ways that you can push the envelope with lasagna ingredients

    Have you seen heidi’s “1000 layer” lasagna?
    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001386.html

    (traditional ingredients, but it still looks tasty!)

  2. liz

    oooh, her recipe looks like heaven. i love tomato sauce, and thin layers of pasta would show off a really good sauce quite well, i think!

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