Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lasagna and Good Friends

It's hard to beat cooking in, drinking wine and catching up with friends on a Friday night after a really long week at work. Last week it was Lasagna night and thankfully, with a lovely group of girlfriends to catch up with! I know that lasagna has a stigma that it takes forever to make, but it doesn't have to. There are a lot of lasagna shortcuts - buying the lasagna noodles that don't have to be boiled first, buying sauce or using sauce you already have in the freezer, and having friends help you!

Before leaving for work that Friday morning I took a couple containers of homemade tomato sauce out of the freezer to use, so I didn't have to bother to make a whole new batch of sauce. I sauteed up some ground chicken and added that and some diced mushrooms and chopped onion to the sauce, to give it a little more flavor and substance. In an attempt to be healthy by opting for whole wheat lasagna noodles, I couldn't find whole wheat ones that were also no-bake, so I did have to boil lots of water to cook the noodles before I was ready to start layering.

Traditional Lasagna: tomato sauce, diced onion, ground chicken, sliced white mushrooms, 1 zucchini, shredded mozzarella and parmesan, ricotta mixture - 1 small container of ricotta, 1 egg, nutmeg, basil, parsley and some of the shredded cheese
Layers: Spoon some sauce on the bottom of the pan first, then layer with lasagna noodles, then spread some of the ricotta mixture on top, with sliced zucchini and then more tomato sauce; repeat again with more noodles, more ricotta mixture, more zucchini, sauce and noodles again. You can usually fit about 3 layers, but you want to make sure you end on top with sauce and the shredded cheese.

Because everything is cooked already, the baking process is really more to heat everything up and melt the cheese. You should be able to bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until you notice the edges bubbling! I usually serve with mixed greens or a vegetable since the lasagna is pretty filling and heavy.

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