Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cooking Ahead Pays Off

I always try to make more than just one batch of certain things - lasagna is one of our family's favorite "Make-Aheads." It's really easy to make a really large batch of tomato sauce (with and sometimes without meat), cook a full box of lasagna noodles and super simple to assemble. A recipe note: I don't use the "no-cook" lasagna noodles because we prefer the texture of the cooked ones. It may be that my recipe is not super sauce soaked, which may be the difference. I have also used spinach in place of the zuchinni - both make this a pretty healthy dish. I originally planned to give one of these away so I used foil lasagna pans from the Dollar Store. You actually get 2 for $1. I price compared these at Target and it was .97 each so a good deal for these pans at the Dollar Store. If making just for us, I use a Pyrex dish and a cake pan. I usually try to stretch this recipe to make 3 pans.

I let them cool and then just put them in the freezer until we need one. Since the ingredients are fully cooked, it's really easy to just pop in the oven and cook quickly. On weekends like this one, where we decided last-minute to go to a potluck Halloween event, it really comes in handy! Here's my recipe:

1 box Lasagna noodles (you'll need 6 noodles for each pan so you may want to count)
1 28oz. can of tomato sauce
1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 6oz. can of tomato paste
1lb ground turkey or beef
1 tbs minced garlic
1 small onion
Basil, oregano to taste
1tbs olive oil
1 27oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 large zuchinni, grated or shredded
6 cups mozzarella cheese

Boil a large pot of water and add lasagna noodles, cook according to directions and then drain. While noodles are cooking, brown beef/turkey in skillet. Add garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Then add tomatoes, paste, sauce and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes. In another saute pan, add olive oil and shredded zuchinni, saute until just cooked.
Empty container of ricotta into a bowl and stir in egg. Add zuchinni and stir together.

To assemble: Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan just so the bottom noodles don't stick to the pan. Lay 3 noodles down. With a spatula, spread a layer of the ricotta-zuke mixture on the noodles and then add another layer of 3 noodles. Cover the top layer with the tomato sauce and then spread two cups of the cheese on top. It really is that easy!

Cook at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly on top.

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I am an attorney, working mom of 3, who loves a bargain, a great deal and freebies. Who doesn't want the best, for less? Come here to see my triumphs and budget tribulations, good deals and my take on what the good life can mean...