Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Three-Cheese Skillet Lasagna...

Preparing a simple tomato sauce was on the agenda one late afternoon earlier this week, which would give us the moisture we needed to get this Three-Cheese Skillet Lasagna on the table in time for dinner.

Using a couple cans of whole, peeled tomatoes, we tossed them into our food processor and with a few touches of the pulse button, the tomatoes had broken down into a chunky puree. Could you get away with just using crushed tomatoes? Probably, but we liked the ability to control the texture of the sauce. Instead of just tossing all the components into the skillet, we first heated up a good layer of extra-virgin olive oil, then slipped the four cloves of finely chopped garlic in to briefly toast. The coarse puree was then poured in and once the tomatoes had come up to a rolling bubble, we eased off the heat and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to let some of the excess liquid evaporate, tightening up the sauce.

You'll want to do this in a large, deep skillet (rather than smaller saucepan) for two reasons - you want the depth so the mixture doesn't bubble all over you and the stove as the sauce simmers, but you'll also be assembling this lasagna right in the same skillet! When the tomatoes were ready, the sauce was poured out with a scant cup being added right back in to cover the bottom. A single layer of those functional no-boil lasagna noodles was arranged over the top of that sauce, breaking them to fit as needed, followed by a mixture of ricotta cheese, a golden egg yolk and of course, the obligatory salt and fresh ground black pepper to season.

Another layer of noodles came after that, but this time a couple ladles of sauce was poured over before the third line of noodles were put in place. The ricotta came back into the show on this layer, followed by any remaining noodles we had scattered about and the last of the sauce. Since there had only been ricotta added at this point, we of course needed more cheese - a lofty amount of shredded fresh mozzarella was amassed on top, along with just a bit of grated pecorino for a final sharp component. We've mentioned this a number of times, but I think it's worth mentioning again - fresh mozzarella is pretty soft and can be difficult to shred, but a quick 15 to 20 minute trip in the freezer usually firms up the cheese enough to solve that issue.

Baked right in the skillet long enough to cook the noodles through, you'll want to give this at least at ten minute rest before you start to portion it out if you want it to hold together. What this gives you is a very basic, mild-tasting lasagna that is clean, homey and definitely pretty quick to throw together. It is also a fairly blank slate if you want to ratchet up the flavor - doctor up the sauce with your favorite herbs, spices or crumbled browned sausage or meat. The ricotta mixture could also be tapped to add your own unique spin!


  1. I fixed this last night and it was excellant.

    Another great recipe, Joe.

  2. OD - Great! I'm glad you gave it a try.

    Sophie - Enjoy!