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Easy lasagna: Simple, fast, with time to watch TV

Let someone else do the prep work for your lasagna.

By Vic Robertssenior features editor / January 30, 2008



Why on Earth would anyone spend three days cooking something that takes just 10 minutes to eat?

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It's a question that I have pondered many times before throwing another frozen entree into the microwave.

While I am glad to know a few home cooks are willing to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals that I devour in a matter of minutes, I don't have much desire to return the favor.

In fact, I'd rather spend time doing something more constructive – like watching football on TV.

But for times when the game isn't on, I'll squeeze in an hour to make a lasagna that can last a week.

It's quick. It's easy. And hey, it tastes pretty good, too.

"Low-prep lasagna" leans heavily on ingredients prepared by others. The noodles are "no boil," so they don't need to be cooked before they are stacked with the lasagna's other ingredients. The mozzarella is already shredded; the spinach prewashed; the store-brand ricotta is straight from a plastic container, and the Parmesan is ready to sprinkle.

Oh, and then there's the sauce.

I don't wish to offend my Italian friends who labor long hours making "the gravy," but I am simply not that picky when it comes to the sauce. Anything from a jar with ingredients that don't require you to be a chemist to understand is just fine with me. Bring on the Ragú!

So if you're someone who has never warmed up to life in the kitchen, give this low-prep spinach lasagna a try. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and spends 45 minutes in the oven.

While the lasagna cools, throw some frozen garlic bread into the oven, and in a few minutes, you'll be treating your taste buds while most lasagna cooks are still stirring the gravy.

Spinach Lasagna

2 cups ricotta cheese

1 pound preshredded mozzarella cheese

1 package no-boil lasagna noodles (about 12 pieces)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 10-ounce bag of washed spinach (remove stems)

2 10-ounce jars Ragú spaghetti sauce (I use Chunky Garden Combination)

2 mixing bowls

9-by-13-inch pan

Aluminum foil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Mix spinach with ricotta cheese. Divide mixture evenly into two mixing bowls.

3. Spread a little sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.

4. Cover with a single layer of noodles (three or four, break as necessary to fit).

5. Spread 1/2 of ricotta/spinach mixture over noodles.

6. Cover with 1/3 of the sauce.

7. Scatter 1/2 of the mozzarella on top.

8. Cover with another layer of noodles (breaking as necessary to fit).

9. Layer remaining ricotta/spinach mixture.

10. Cover with another 1/3 of the sauce.

11. Scatter remaining mozzarella.

12. Cover with a final layer of noodles (breaking as necessary to fit).

13. Spread rest of the sauce.

14. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes uncovered. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake another 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

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