Monday, October 5, 2009

Comfort Food: Skillet Low-Fat Lasagna

This is such an outrageously good short cut for lasagna I have to share it. I'm writing it in blog form so I will always be able to find it myself.

Earlier, my short cut was to use no boil lasagna noodles. You can find them on most grocery shelves but somehow the sauce never quite covered the top layer and the recipe made too many servings. We always had to freeze it.
Not so with the skillet version. I use low-cost, no-fat cottage cheese in place of ricotta, and ground turkey meat in place of beef, and you really can't tell. You could add peppers and spinach as well. The downside of this is that it might not look picture perfect the way the baked version does. You can make it ahead and reheat it in the oven or microwave.
I bet it would be good with gluten free pasta because it has lots of juices. It would be pretty easy to make two batches, side by side.
Supposedly it serves 4 to 6 but we got 7 servings out of it.
Thanks to Susan Yeske who printed this in the Times of Trenton on September 23. She took it from, part of the Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen family. My variation:
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (any kind, really)
1 tablespoon olive oil
at least 1 medium onion, minced (I just chop it and like to use two)
table salt (I don't)
at least 3 medium cloves garlic (1 tablespoon) minced or pressed unless cooking for Nate
at least 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound meatloaf mix (I use ground turkey)
10 curly edged lasagna noodles broken into 2-inch lengths (I use any kind)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 Tablespoons for on top
ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta (I use no-fat cottage cheese. I guess you don't use mozzarella because it wouldn't melt fast enough? )
basil -- dry or fresh, and if you have it fresh I add plenty of it.

1. Pour tomatoes and their juices into 1 quart measuring cup, add water until it measures 1 quart
2. Heat oil in large 12-inch nonstick skillet with tight lid (I use my Le Creuset French oven) over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion (and 1/2 t. salt) and cook until begins to brown, about 5 minutes, Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Here's where I add extra fresh basil. Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
3. Scatter cut up pasta over meat and don't stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juices AND don't forget that can of tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY (I forgot the first time and ended up with pasta stuck together, still good though) until pasta is tender, for just about 20 minutes.
4. Turn off the gas burner if you are lucky enough to have gas. If not, remove from heat, stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with pepper (and or salt if you don't have that problem). Dot with heaping tablespoons of whatever you are using, ricotta or cottage cheese, cover, and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
And thank you to the sister-in-law who gave me the Le Creuset pot some three-decades ago.