Lasagna on a weeknight? Tell me more!
You don’t need to invite an entire soccer team over to have a reason to make this cheesy lasagna with chunky sausage and a rustic tomato sauce. I’ve downsized the mega-version of lasagna, thanks to my new best friend: the loaf pan!
This Loaf Plan Lasagna is the perfect small-batch size to feed one, two, or three people.
We all know lasagna is comfort food that comes with a hefty time and labor price tag and a big pan to wash. But consider a Wednesday, when you really need to get over that hump, and you only have about 30 minute to prepare dinner. Economy of scale in this case means fewer minutes at the stove and manageable leftovers. Sounds like a win-win in my book!
HOW TO MAKE LOAF PAN LASAGNA
This recipe for Loaf Pan Lasagna makes two big servings for very hungry people, but really closer to three normal servings, so there’s a nice little leftover in the fridge for next day’s lunch.
A loaf pan size lasagna is just like a big one with a smaller volume of ingredients. You layer the ingredients in much the same way, and the baking time is close to the same. Where you really save time with this dish is on the prep time. Making the components takes less time and effort because of its small size.
To prepare it, just sauté some ground Italian sausage (I use chicken sausage links and remove the casing, but you can use pork or turkey if you’d rather). Add the sausage to an easy, tasty tomato sauce; mix up some ricotta with Parmesan, and then layer everything in the loaf pan with no-boil noodles. What’s not to like about that?
Top it off with a little more cheese and bake for 40 minutes. It’s not instant lasagna, but for this homemade favorite, it’s pretty close.
HOW TO MAKE CHUNKY TOMATO SAUCE
I make my favorite go-to tomato sauce with whole canned tomatoes, so I don’t have to have too many different types of canned tomatoes on hand. I also think whole canned tomatoes are softer and taste fresher than diced or pureed tomatoes.
If I buy the really good ones (San Marzano, from Italy), they break down in the pan with a potato masher—just right for a rustic style sauce. However, some brands of tomatoes are fairly firm and need some help.
Once you open the can, use a large pair of scissors and get right in there to snip and “chop.” You are just trying to break them up into medium-size pieces and contain them in the can so they don’t spurt all over. Once you heat them in the pan, you can break them up even more with a potato masher.
If you simply must have smooth sauce, then puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender and simmer with the sausage. But for this recipe, I like the chunky sauce with the sausage.
TIPS TO MAKE AHEAD, STORE AND FREEZE
- To make one day ahead: Assemble the lasagna and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap. Bake as directed, adding five to 10 minutes to the baking time.
- To freeze for up to three months: Assemble the lasagna and cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze. Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Remove plastic wrap and foil and place foil loosely over the top. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for about one hour. Remove foil tent and continue baking 10 to 15 minutes, until lasagna is bubbling and cheese is browned.
- To reheat leftovers: Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot all the way through. A quick zap in the microwave also works for individual servings.
MORE COOKING FOR TWO RECIPES
Loaf Pan Lasagna for Two Recipe Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Italian chicken sausages (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground black pepper
- Oil or oil spray (for the loaf pan)
- 4 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- Chopped parsley
1 Cook the sausage: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Either slice the sausage into rounds or remove the casing from the sausage by slicing lengthwise down the side and cook it like ground sausage.
When the oil shimmers, add the sausage to the pan, and cook for about 6 minutes or until browned. Use a cooking utensil to break the sausage up as you cook it. Transfer to a plate.
2 Snip the tomatoes: Open the can of tomatoes and use a large pair of scissors to snip and break them up in the can into chunky pieces. You will mash them a little more in the skillet.
3 Make the sauce: In the same skillet you used to brown the sausage, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds, or until the garlic sizzles. Add the tomatoes with their juices, salt, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce is hot.
Use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces (this is easiest to do when tomatoes soften in the heat). You are aiming for a chunky sauce.
Add the sausage back to the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and sugar, if you like.
4 Make the ricotta mixture: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir the egg, ricotta, Parmesan, nutmeg, and pepper together.
5 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush or spray a 4x8-inch loaf pan with oil.
6 Assemble the lasagna: In the bottom of the loaf pan, ladle about 1/2 cup tomato-sausage sauce. Top with 1 noodle. Spread with 1/2 cup sauce, and then spread 1/3 mounded cup of the ricotta mixture over it.
Place a second noodle on top of the sauce. Spread 1/3 mounded cup ricotta mixture over it, and top with 1/2 cup tomato-sausage sauce.
Place a third noodle on top of the sauce. Spread with remaining ricotta and spoon 1/2 cup tomato-sausage sauce over it, using up all of the remaining sausage pieces in this layer.
Place a fourth noodle on top of the sauce and spoon the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.
6 Bake the lasagna: Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet. Fold a large piece of foil in half and fold it in half again. Make a tent over the loaf pan (so it does not stick to the cheese.) Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil tent. Check to see if the lasagna is uneven or if it peaks in the middle. If it’s uneven, use the back of a spoon to press the top layer lightly to make it level in the loaf pan and submerge the noodles in the sauce.
Turn the oven down to 375°F. Return lasagna to the oven and continue to bake for 15 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese is golden brown. (If you like stretchy rather than browned cheese, check after 10 minutes.)
7 To serve: Allow the lasagna to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if you like.
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