The mad rush after work. It’s not fun. We don’t even have kids and the mad rush after work isn’t fun. I jump on the tube, madly run through what’s in the fridge/cupboard, and how I could combine what’s there with a quick stop at the grocery store to make something for dinner. This is where leftover Marinara sauce is king. Lasagna is a easy enough dish to throw together. There are however, a few ways to make it even easier. This is my take on a wicked fast lasagna that still tastes like you spent hours slaving over a hot stove.
ground beef (1 lb)
leftover Marinara sauce (about 3 cups)
oven ready lasagna noodles (now is not the time to muck about with boiling lasagna noodles my friend)
ricotta cheese (1 pkg)
2 tsp basil
salt and pepper (lots of fresh ground pepper please)
spinach (1 bag of ready to serve please)
mozzarella cheese (I’m going to say it…pre-shredded – this is a mad week night/crazy november grad student supper)
Cook the ground beef in a skillet until no longer pink. While the beef is cooking, combine in a bowl, the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper, mozzarella cheese, and half the spinach. It will be kind of globby, but that’s ok, it’s lasagna, it will even out. Take some of your leftover marinara sauce and spread it in the bottom of your lasagna pan (I use a 9×13 pan but to each his own). Layer some lasagna noodles to cover the bottom.
When your beef is finished cooking (aka no longer pink), combine it with the remaining leftover marinara sauce. Lovely, now for the layering! Layer the lasagna as you see fit, blobby spinach and cheese layer, sauce layer, noodle layer…whatever strikes your fancy. I like to add the other half of the spinach somewhere in the middle, I find it adds a little oomph. Just be sure that there’s lots of sauce covering your noodles at the end of all your layering. Any noodles that are dry (aka not covered in sauce) will stay that way and lead to crunchy lasagna (not so awesome). Sprinkle some leftover cheese (or parmesan if you’ve got it lying around) and a few turns of the pepper grinder over your finished product and toss it in the oven for ~45 minutes at 350 or until cooked through (aka no hard noodles).
I’ve made this particular combination twice now. It all comes together in about 15-20 minutes. By the time Mr416expat walks in the door I’m lounging on the couch typing out another blog post!
One last note for the mad crazy grad students among us, this lasagna freezes well and makes an excellent meal. Let the whole pan cool completely, toss it in the freezer for 15 minutes, THEN slice it into individual pieces and freeze in saran wrap or tupperware.