Monday, February 28, 2011

Lasagna Substitute - Food When You Don't Have Much Time

I'm not what anyone would call a cook, but I do cook almost every day, so I've had to come up with some tips and tricks to disguise my lack of skill in the kitchen. In addition, I have one more problem, and I'm sure that some of you also occasionally have that problem.

Like so many of you who are often short on time, I don't always have either the hours or the inclination (or the ingredients on hand) to do more than throw a few items together and call it a meal. Especially when I'm on a book deadline, I fall firmly into the "if it takes more than 15-20 minutes of prep time, I'm not going to make it" camp. So here is the first of several of my go-to meals when time is at a premium. (Note: I'm not always big on exact amounts for these types of meals. This is more of a guideline than a recipe):

1. Cook and drain whatever kind of pasta you happen to have on hand (I've used spaghetti, rotini and bow tie pasta, but any kind will do).

2. Brown ground beef in a large skillet. If you want to get fancy, you could also saute onions and green peppers with the beef while it is browning, but I'm usually going for fast, and chopping vegetables takes time, so those seldom make it into this dish at my house. (If you're a "must have sausage in my lasagna", now would be the time to brown that as well).

3.Toss some bottled sauce in with the ground beef.

4. When the sauce is hot, stir in your pasta.

5. Add a generous amount of mozzarella and stir in until it melts just a bit. (At this point, if I'm ambitious, I might also add a little "fake ricotta" otherwise known as cottage cheese, but I seldom have it on hand, so Just the mozzarella). Note: if you crave a more traditional lasagna taste and you happen to have a hard boiled egg on hand, I suppose you could also chop/crumble some of that in. I haven't tried it, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

6. Pour it all into a bowl and sprinkle generously with more mozzarella. Put it under the broiler (if in a heat-proof bowl) or in the microwave and heat just until the mozzarella topping is melted.

Serve with a bagged salad or a side vegetable (or both) and bread, and you have a meal on the run.

This is one of my favorite go-to's because it's filling and it doesn't look as if I've tried to cheat. So, the question I'd like to ask you have a favorite meal on the run that you make? If so, please share it below. I'd love to hear what other people do in rushed circumstances.

Best Wishes and Happy Reading!


Colleen said...

Yummy Sounds good! I like quick and easy! :)

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Colleen, I'm with you! When I'm really in a rush or on a deadline, I make a lot of cheese omelets. We always (well, almost always) have eggs and cheese on hand.