Dinner :: Skillet Lasagna

I can't say enough good things about this dish. It was simple, tasty, easy yet still rewarding to create. One of my favorite recipes! It's very important to get the right kind of lasagna noodles. This recipe calls for no-bake, so in other words, you want to get the noodles that need to be boiled in water (or in this case, tomato sauce).

Skillet Lasagna
Recipe courtesy of Aug/Sept 2009 Food Network Magazine

Heat 1/4 C. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add 4 sliced cloves of garlic; cook until golden (1 minute). Add 1.5 lbs. diced ripe tomatoes, 1 T. chopped basil/parley (your choice), 1/2 t. salt, and pepper to taste; cook until "saucy," about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree. Return 1 C. of the sauce to the skillet and reduce heat to low; reserve the remaining sauce.

Meanwhile, mix 1 C. ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 2 T. grated parmesan, 3 T. chopped herbs, 1/2 t. salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Wash and peel 1 carrot and 1 zucchini into ribbons (I used my potato peeler).

Place 2 sheets no-bake lasagna noodles over the sauce in the skillet. Layer half of the carrot and zucchini on top; drizzle with olive oil and season with slat and pepper. Cover with a layer of baby spinach (about 1.5-2 C.), half the ricotta mixture, a few pieces of thinly sliced mozzarella and 2-3 T. of the reserved tomato sauce. Repeat the layers, ending with noodles. Top with any remaining sauce and the rest of the mozzarella (in total, you'll want about 1/3 lb. of mozzarella). Cover and simmer until the lasagna is cooked and the cheese melts (20-25 minutes).

Let rest for a few minutes before slicing, Garnish with more parmesan and fresh herbs.

Checking on the status of the noodles - nope, not done yet!

The final product! I promise you, it tastes better than it looks (and don't look too hard because I burned some of the cheese...). Here's a trick if you don't have a cooling rack - turn your muffin tin upside down and put the dish on that.

Dinner :: Pasta with Potatoes

My first Bittman!

After talking with my friend Raquel, a true food blogger, I learned of the amazing "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. We both saw Julia & Julia on Sunday (muuuuuch better than the book, by the way), and I was inspired and went out and bought it on my way home. [Notice that I wasn't inspired to get Mastering the Art of French Cooking; I was actually frightened away from it and will likely never attempt a single Julia Child recipe.]

"How to Cook Everything" reads more like a piece of non-fiction than a recipe book, and from what I can tell so far, it features fresh, simple, tasty food. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I chose a simple - yet intriguing - first dish to attempt. I'd never had pasta + potatoes before, and since I love both so much, I had to give it a whirl.

The result was very satisfactory, though it would have been better suited to the winter months (which Bittman warned me, but I naively chose not to heed his advice).

*Note that the pasta in the recipe is "leftover pasta," meaning it's already cooked...

Pasta with Tomatoes
Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything

1. Combine 2 T. olive oil, 4 oz minced bacon, and 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes in a large soup kettle over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon becomes crisp, about 10 minutes. Add 1 T. chopped garlic; cook 1 minute more, then add 5 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks. Raise the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes brown a bit, about 10 minutes.
2. Add 1 (28-oz) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices along with 1 C. hot water. Add about 1.5 lbs leftover pasta, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and adding hot water as necessary - the texture should remain thick and stewy, never dry.
3. About 30 minutes later, when the potatoes are tender and the pasta is much, it's done. Adjust seasoning, as necessary.