My boys’ preferred pasta dish is lasagna, and really, who can blame them? What's not to love about layers of noodles mixed with meaty Bolognese and melted mozzarella? From a cook's perspective it’s a delectable dish, but not necessarily one for the weeknight dinner table. At least it wasn’t, until I created this shortcut version back in 2004, and since then I've been making this for dinner a few times each year, and every time I do I give my hand a little slap for forgetting just how easy this is to put together.
Now that I’ve written the recipe down, here in my digital diary, I think it’s safe to say it’ll end up on the table a little more frequently, for sure. And if you happen to be cooking for kids, any other large group of hungry people, or even just yourself, I hope it finds its way to your table, too.
This dish has all the hallmarks of a traditional lasagna, but is made and assembled in a fraction of the time. Instead of the long sheets of pasta we're accustomed to using, this dish calls for the quick-cooking penne. There's also less layering involved (another time consuming step), and in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, the meat sauce is warmed and the cheese topping assembled. Then everything browns and bubbles in the oven, allowing me (and you!) to take care of other things that need to be done at the same time, because goodness, doesn’t it seem like every time you get busy in the kitchen there’s something else that requires your attention?
Lazy? Yes. Delicious? Without a doubt.
Do you have a "lazy" version of a favourite recipe?
- 1lb. dried penne pasta
- 6 cups Bolognese sauce, warmed
- 1 container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne to the pot and cook the pasta until it’s just tender, or al dente. Drain and set aside.
Place the Bolognese in a second saucepan and gently warm it over medium-low heat.
Combine the ricotta, egg, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese in a bowl. Stir well and set aside.
To assemble the lasagna: Spread half the meat sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch (or similar sized) baking dish. Cover with all of the pasta. Spread the cheese mixture over the pasta with a rubber spatula, and then top with the remaining meat sauce.
Sprinkle the other cup of mozzarella cheese, the Parmesan, and oregano over the meat sauce. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.