If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Or, just find ways to cook dinner without using your gas oven.

May 30, 2007 · 1 comment

It’s not even June, and it’s already reaching temps of over 90º here in Athens. When this thing — this oppressive, unavoidable series of unfortunate months known as “summer,” longed-for by a few (I’ve never understood why, especially those in the deep south), dreaded by this particular soul — comes upon me, one of the first things I do is try as hard as possible not to turn on my oven. Our oven is of the gas variety, and while I love, love, love my stovetop, the oven acts as a veritable furnace. Maybe it’s because our oven is old, and cheap at that?

There are a couple of things I must continue to use my oven for, bi-weekly or so: making bread and granola. Other than that, our entire summer consists of either grilling, baking in the convection toaster oven, or cooking on the stove. Tonight I happen to be making food for our friends with whom we swap meals once a week, and the evening’s recipe was Stovetop Lasagna. This is from a sample issue of Cook’s Country, and I first had it about a year ago when Cassia made it for us a few days after returning home from the hospital with Townes. It’s an easy, one-pot, quite delicious meal, a welcome twist on the oft-times heavy, dry or soupy, overly-cheesy american-favorite pasta bake. It has room for creativity, too — we’ve made a vegetarian version, and I usually add whatever veggies I have on hand for the meat version too. Tonight it was mushrooms.

So here’s the recipe. I’m not quite sure if it’s legal for me to rewrite it here, but I figure I’m giving them credit, and I doubt my readership is a threat to their current circulation. Let me know if you make it, and what changes/additions you think work.

SKILLET LASAGNA*

  • 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • water
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ground beef (or mixture of beef/pork, beef/sausage)
  • 10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
  • pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbs chopped fresh basil

1) Pour tomatoes with their juices into 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 1 quart.

2) Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion (and additional veggies, per your liking — anything you’ve had in a lasagna) and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink.

3) Scatter pasta over meat but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

4) Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining parmesan. Serve.

*courtesy COOK’S COUNTRY magazine, June/July 2006

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