Garfield's Delight

Despite all my Happy Moanday planning yesterday, I woke up from my nap at 4:30pm, realizing I had less than 2 hours to go grocery shopping, cook something, and eat something before I had to get to bed (the glamour of journalism!). When I double-checked my recipes, I saw that most would require a complex set of ingredients or too much time to cook. Also, since my landlord doesn't turn on the heat during the day, it was like a meat freezer in my room and I wanted something hot and filling that would last me for the week. The answer? Lasagna.

Before I started cooking it myself, I never really liked lasagna. Someone would always bring it to church dinners, and the lure of all that cheese would be negated by the dry pasta, chunky and sour sauce, and crumbly meat. I was about ready to abandon it forever when I started to make my own pasta. I don't have a pasta press or pasta maker, so the only shape I really could convincingly replicate was the rectangle of lasagna. It cooked up lovely--fresh and plump--and even when cooked crispy, the texture was delicious: slightly crisp but dense, rather than the thin pieces of char you get with store-bought pasta. Every now and then Dave would make his secret Toniatti-family tomato sauce, which paired together with the fresh pasta, ground beef, and cheese, was pretty much stomach-exploding fantastic. Any time we invited people over for dinner we would make it--it was our favorite fancy meal.

Unfortunately, I didn't have secret Toniatti sauce or homemade pasta, but what I did have was a craving for some cheesy, pasta-y deliciousness. When I'm just cooking for myself, I use Barilla's no-boil pasta, which you just layer between sauce without boiling it first. It saves a step and doesn't cut back on taste, although it's far, far from the good stuff I'm used to. I made a huge serving which will certainly last me through the week, although I've never been much of a fan of reheated lasagna. I use the recipe on the back of the Barilla box, modified with some spices. For the pasta recipe, go here. For the Toniatti sauce recipe, keep trying.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
One box or one pound cooked lasagna
1 24-oz jar of tomato sauce or 3 cups homemade tomato sauce
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon fresh black pepper

Preheat over to 375 degrees
Brown meat in a pan over medium-high heat
While the meat is cooking, beat two eggs
Add ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, and Parmesan
Add basil, oregano, nutmeg, and pepper
Cover the bottom of a large glass baking pan with tomato sauce. Layer in the following way:
1/2 ricotta
1/2 meat
Top with another layer of pasta, sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella
Cover with foil and cook for 50-60 minutes
Remove foil and cook for 10 minutes or until mozzarella is golden brown
Let cool and serve.

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