Lasagna for Two
Tom and I never go out on Valentine’s Day. Everything is so crowded so I make something special at home. Last year we had steak but this year I wanted something else. My son and his wife are in Italy right now for their wedding anniversary as well as Valentine’s day…seriously, how romantic is that?! They have sent me some amazing photos of landscapes, architecture and food and I got very inspired to make something Italian! Here’s a gorgeous shot they took in Como.
I might not be able to eat in Italy this Valentine’s Day, maybe next year, 🙂 but we will eat like we are! If you haven’t read our love story head over here to check it out. I bet it’s not like most you’ve read! Now onto the lasagna!
This is super easy to put together and even though I don’t usually use no-boil lasagna noodles, I did in this dish and it really turned out great! Just go through the list of ingredients and get everything prepared ahead and the recipe will come together much easier. I used my food processor to chop the vegetables and shred the cheese.
Next, you’ll heat the oil until it shimmers and saute the onion for 5 minutes before adding the garlic, cook for another minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Toss in the ground meat and brown it until no longer pink. Stir in the cream and keep cooking until the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes, reserved juice and tomato sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste it and add salt and pepper, I added an 1/8 tsp of each. In a separate bowl combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, basil and 1/8 tsp of both salt and pepper.
Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of loaf pan that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Lay 1 noodle in pan, spread one-third of ricotta mixture over noodle, sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella, and top with 1/2 cup sauce; repeat layering 2 more times. Lay remaining noodle in pan and top with remaining sauce, remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella, and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. I had quite a bit of sauce left-over at the end to pour on top and you might too. Don’t be worried, just pour it all on and it will be perfect! I also wanted a bit more mozzarella on top so I sprinkled a little more on top, I like it ooey and gooey!
Wrap it all up in aluminum foil and bake it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake it for 10 more minutes or until the cheese starts to get brown in spots. Let it stand for 20 minutes before diving in. That’s the hard part but you can do it! 🙂 Set the table, light the candles, pretend you are in Italy! Buon Appetito!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- Salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces meatloaf mix
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus 2 tablespoons, grated
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 4 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in meatloaf mix and cook, breaking up meat, until no longer pink.
- Stir in cream, bring to a simmer and cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and reserved juice and tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
- Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper in bowl.
- Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of loaf pan. Lay 1 noodle in pan, spread one-third of ricotta mixture over noodle, sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella, and top with 1/2 cup sauce; repeat layering 2 more times. Lay remaining noodle in pan and top with remaining sauce, remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella, and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
- Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake until sauce bubbles lightly around edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until hot throughout and cheese is browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped basil if desired.
Pasta with Bacon, Butternut Squash and Sage for Two
Butternut squash and sage are two ingredients that say winter to me and I love them both, but together they are a marriage made in heaven! Add bacon and you’ve got a happy little family of yummy flavors!
Cooking the sage in the rendered bacon fat makes the perfect herb infused oil for sauteing the squash.
There are a few tricks to coaxing the most flavor out of butternut squash and one is caramelizing it. It helps to dry out some of the wateriness of the squash and brings out some of its inherent sweetness, adding butter and sugar help to bring out the sweet nutty notes of the squash even more.
The scallions add some brightness to the dish and the nutmeg adds just the right spice or earthiness to the dish. Adding parmesan and a little lemon juice at the end along with toasted almonds for some textural crunch really brings the whole dish together!
- 4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 large fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon minced
- 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 pound penne or other short, tubular pasta
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove bacon and reserve.
- Cook whole sage leaves in rendered fat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove sage leaves and reserve.
- Return infused bacon fat in skillet and turn to high heat adding olive oil to make one TBSP of oil if needed and heat until shimmering.
- Add squash in even layer and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spotty brown, 3-4 minutes longer.
- Add butter and allow to melt, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, nutmeg, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and minced sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add broth and bring to simmer; continue to cook 1-3 mintues or until squash is tender,
- Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer back to Dutch oven.
- Add squash mixture to pasta; stir in 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and reserved bacon-sage mixture, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta liquid. Serve with the sliced almonds and more parmesan cheese.
- I double this recipe for company!