Saturday, August 22, 2009
I'm a fan of lasagnas but when you're in a household of 2, a traditional batch of lasagna can last more than you really want. After the 3rd or 4th day of eating the leftovers, we can get tired of it pretty quickly. But when I was thinking of ways to make smaller portions of a dish that usually yields enough for an army, it dawned on me that I just needed to change what I bake it in. Disposable loaf pans are perfect for lasagnas enough for 2 people. The best part of it all? I have very little leftovers and I can still make a traditional batch and freeze it in smaller portions to have dinner on hand when I'm short on time.
Lasagnas for Two
1 package lasagna 'no boil' pasta sheets*
1-2 jars pasta sauce or 4 cups homemade pasta sauce
1-2 packages or 4 cups shredded mozzarella or shredded Italian blend cheese
1 tub part skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Optional - 1 lb bulk Italian sausage or links (removed from casings)
1 package of disposable foil loaf pans (which usually comes in 3)
Yields 3 foil loaf pans
* Trader Joes and Barilla make great no boil pasta sheets that fit well in the disposable foil loaf pans
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
If you choose to include italian sausage in your lasagna, crumble the bulk Italian sausage or sausage removed from casings into a hot non stick skillet. No oil is necessary since there is enough fat in the sausage to help it brown on it's own. Cook the sausage completely, drain from any oil and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, chopped parsley, and salt & pepper to taste; set aside.
Prepare your loaf pans by putting a few tablespoons of pasta sauce on the bottom. This helps prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan and gives the no boil pasta sheets some moisture to cook. As you build your lasagna, be sure to have the pasta sheets surrounded by pasta sauce - on the top and bottom. This helps the dry pasta sheets cook with enough moisture since they are not being cooked beforehand.
Next, place one no boil pasta sheet in the loaf pan. It won't sit in perfectly but that's okay. Continue layering the lasagna because eventually it will settle flat on the bottom as it cooks.
Top the pasta with another few tablespoons of pasta sauce, followed by a few spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese mixture, a sprinkling of shredded cheese and more pasta sauce. Repeat until you've filled the loaf pan to the top, making sure to end with a pasta sheet. Top the pasta sheet with more pasta sauce.
You also have the option to top the lasagna with shredded cheese before baking, but I tend to hold off so that the cheese doesn't burn since it's being baked uncovered. I sprinkle the cheese on top just before serving... but it's your lasagna so do whatever you prefer!
At this point, you can:
1) Cover and place in a freezer bag, freezing it to enjoy later.
2) Place it on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes.
Keep in mind that this recipe allows for a lot of versatility. Feel free to use other ingredients to layer your lasagnas such as:
Mexican - substitute the pasta sauce with a mixture of salsa, black beans, sweet corn, chopped fresh cilantro; substitute the italian sausage with Mexican chorizo; substitute the mozzarella/Italian cheese blend with quesadilla or chihuahua cheeses.
Chicken Florentine - subsitute the pasta sauce with alfredo sauce; subsitute the italian sausage with shredded or chopped chicken, frozen spinach and minced garlic.
Here are more lasagna recipes featured here on my site if you need more inspiration...
Chicken Florentine Lasagna
Lasagna Bolognese with Parmesan Bechamel
Mozzarella Bechamel Lasagna
Spinach & Italian Sausage Lasagna
Three Cheese Vegetable Lasagna
Timpano (aka baked lasagna en croute)
Turkey Parmigiana Lasagna