Lasagna Shortcut: How To Make All Lasagna Recipes in a Fraction of the Time

Everybody loves lasagna. Contemporary cuisine includes endless adaptations of more traditional recipes (there’s really no “original” lasagna, but it’s considered standard as a baked dish of layered pasta, tomato sauce, ground beef, and cheeses). Everything from cream sauce lasagnas to seafood lasagnas to vegetable lasagnas to rather bizarre and occasionally questionable interpretations of “lasagna” are readily available in restaurants, as are their recipes in cookbooks. Not everybody loves making lasagna. It’s a hassle, even for recipes that tout themselves as easy. Most lasagna recipes call for about an hour of preparation and 45 minutes to an hour of cooking. A two hour ordeal isn’t such a great deal. Lasagna is not the most convenient of recipes in other ways besides time required. Recipes generally make a large dish of eight to 10 servings, which isn’t ideal when cooking for one, two, or the average-size family. Even serving lasagna can be a cumbersome and messy endeavor. With the solution herein, lasagna can finally claim its rightful place at your dinner table more than a few times a year. Lasagna isn’t just part of the “recipes for company” file anymore. You can easily make the exact quantity of lasagna you want and not have to worry about the precarious serving, all in 25 minutes! The shortcut lasagna secret is to prepare and build individual servings (with no baking required), rather than follow recipes that call for baking a whole tray. Here’s the basic idea, which can be adapted and used as a starting point for any lasagna recipes: In a pot of boiling water, cook 3 inch by 3 inch pasta sheets. You can buy large sheets and cut them down, or just cut down packaged lasagna noodles to approximately this size. You’ll need three sheets per serving. Remember to gently stir every few minutes to prevent the sheets from sticking together. Some people put a little oil in the water to prevent pasta from sticking together. This works, but it also keeps sauce from adhering to the pasta, so it’s not recommended for this meal. It should take about 15 minutes to bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta (it varies depending on the thickness of the sheets—thicker is better for lasagna recipes, and keep it al dente). In this time, heat a pot of tomato sauce. Use roughly one-third of a large jar per serving. Except for the occasional stir, the pasta and sauce take care of themselves. This allows you to prepare your ground beef simultaneously. One-quarter pound is more than enough per serving. Ground beef is just one option. Try mixing half ground beef with half chorizo (a somewhat spicy Spanish sausage). Use ground pork, turkey, or whatever you like. Vegetarians can steam or sautee the vegetables of their choice in lieu of meat, and even fry some tofu. In a large pan, sautee the ground beef. When it’s about four minutes away from finishing, throw in a quarter of a chopped medium onion and a quarter of a chopped garlic clove per serving (or one shallot). Sprinkle in some oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. The meat will finish about the same time as your pasta and sauce. Have whatever cheeses you’ll be using on hand. Mozzarella, provolone, drained ricotta, and some freshly grated parmesan are standard, complementary picks. All that’s left now is to build the individual lasagna servings. Put a pasta sheet on a plate and spread some sauce, meat, and cheese onto it. Lay another sheet down on top, and add the other ingredients again. Put the third, top sheet on and spread a little sauce and grate some parmesan cheese over it. That’s all there is to the secret of 25-minute lasagna. This is a basic guide with which you can make just about any lasagna recipes in far less time. It’s quick, easy, and lets you control how many portions are made. Enjoy!  

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