Skillet Lasagna

I am craving comfort foods from my youth, right about now.

I wanted lasagna the way Garfield scratches his belly for it……. I just didn’t feel like cooking it and putting together all the wonderful layers. Between Zoom Calls and family responsibilities and such I have hit a COVID19 wall lately when it comes to cooking…..but I still want lasagna.

One answer to my 99 problems, and my craving for lasagna is easily solved.

Skillet Lasagna!

With this simple recipe, you can enjoy this comfort food any night of the week. Everything cooks in just 30 minutes This easy skillet lasagna recipe uses traditional ingredients like ricotta, mozzarella and Italian sausage for that authentic lasagna flavor. If you don’t have a large skillet, no problem, just use a deep Dutch oven.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 pound uncooked lasagna noodles (1/2 of a 16-ounce box)
1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, divided
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt, to taste
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, divided
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with onions, undrained
One 12-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
3/4 cup Mozzarella-Parmesan cheese blend

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break the noodles in half and cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the noodles and set aside.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook the meat, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain the excess fat from the meat and return to skillet. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes, salt to taste and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds — do not burn the garlic.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, salt to taste, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the basil; set aside.

Remove the skillet from the stove. Add dollops of the ricotta cheese mixture by rounded tablespoons over the sausage. Top with the noodles, making 1 flat layer. Note that the noodles will overlap just a little bit.

Pour tomatoes and bell peppers over noodles, making sure that noodles are completely covered. Add water, and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon Italian season. Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the perimeter of the skillet.

Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and uncover and sprinkle with cheese blend. Cover again and let is stand for 3 t0 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. You can let it stand for and additional 5 minutes if you like it less saucy. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped fresh basil just before serving, if desired. Cut into wedges, and serve with a slotted spatula.

Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute the canned tomatoes and diced bell peppers with one 28-ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce.

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Chickpea Quesadillas

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It’s “Taco Tuesday” and you will not be disappointed with this veggie-friendly quesadilla. Neatly stuff a mess of cumin seasoned smashed chickpeas into a flour tortilla and sprinkle with a mix of cheese and scallions, and you will have so much gooey goodness made with you, the health conscious and family budget friendly and absolute foodie, in mind.

Enjoy!

MAKES 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large (9- to 10-inch) flour tortillas

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 cups cojita cheese, crumbled

1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

3 medium scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

For Serving:

Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Add half of the chickpeas to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until broken down but not puréed. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl and mash with a fork.) Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (at least 10 inches) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, stir to coat with the oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the whole and mashed chickpeas, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine the cheeses and set aside.

To assemble the quesadillas: Place the tortillas on a work surface. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup of cheese. Divide the chickpea mixture among the tortillas, spreading into an even layer but leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the chickpeas, then top each with scallions. To fold the quesadillas, fold the top of the tortilla down over the filling to the center. Holding that piece down and working clockwise, continue folding the rest of the tortilla towards the middle until the filling is completely covered (you will have about 5 folds). Carefully flip the quesadilla over and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add the quesadillas (as many as will fit in a single layer), folded-side down. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Repeat as needed until all the quesadillas are cooked.

Reheating: If not serving immediately, let cool completely and wrap each quesadilla tightly in aluminum foil. Refrigerate or freeze in resealable plastic bags. Reheat uncovered in a 325°F regular or toaster oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes if refrigerated, or about 25 minutes if frozen. Microwaving is not recommended, as the quesadillas will be soggy.

COOK’S NOTES:

Storage: The foil-wrapped quesadillas can be stored in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Kale Pesto Grilled Cheese

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These ooey, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches use four (count ’em, four) types of cheese: shredded mozzarella, shredded provolone, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan. They’re sandwiched between toasted brioche with a vibrant basil-kale pesto. Embrace your inner kid and dunk the sandwiches in the warm marinara sauce (that’s exactly what we did).

Adapted from Plated.com
2019

Serves 2

Ingredients:
olive oil
2 ounces curly kale
1/4 ounce basil
1 lemon
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
One 8-ounce jar marinara sauce
4 slices brioche
1 ounce shredded mozzarella
1 ounce shredded provolone cheese blend

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Rinse all produce. Roughly chop or tear kale leaves, discarding long stems. Pick basil leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemon. Thinly slice mozzarella. Mince garlic.

To make kale pesto, add to a blender or food processor, combine pine nuts, kale, basil, half of garlic, 1 tablespoon water, and 2 tablespoons olive oil; pulse until smooth. Stir in half of Parmesan, 1 squeeze lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Set kale pesto aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium high-sided pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add oregano and remaining garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase heat to medium high and add marinara sauce. Simmer, stirring, until warmed through and flavors have melded, 6-8 minutes more. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Remove pan from heat; cover and set aside until ready to use.

While marinara simmers, drizzle olive oil over 1 side of bread slices. Arrange oil-side up on a baking sheet and bake until beginning to crisp, 2 minutes, then flip. Spread kale pesto over plain sides of bread slices and top with shredded mozzarella and provolone, then remaining Parmesan, then mozzarella slices. Return to oven and bake until cheeses are melted and bread is golden, 3-4 minutes more.

Close sandwiches, pressing to adhere. Return to oven and bake until tops of sandwiches are golden, 1-2 minutes.

To serve, cut kale pesto grilled cheese in half on a diagonal. Divide marinara sauce between small bowls and serve with sandwiches for dipping.