Monday, September 28, 2015

Skillet and Three Bowl Lasagna

My favorite lasagna recipe is an all day affair. Really. Starting with homemade sauce, of course. As good as it is, I don't often have an entire day to spend in the kitchen. So when I saw a skillet lasagna, I was intrigued and studied up on them.

The good news is you can make it just about any way you want. There are tons of variations. I think it was Food Network that used egg noodles. Some people use no-cook lasagna noodles, while others use the regular kind. The main difference being the cooking time and the amount of stirring. Some of the results sounded (to me) more like lasagna soup, which could actually be good but wasn't what I had in mind.

You can use spinach and veggies, or ground beef, or ground pork, or your favorite sausage. Naturally, you should go with your favorite bottled pasta sauce because that's the dominant flavor. Bottled? I heard gasps. If you have your own pasta sauce ready to go, then use it by all means. But the point of the skillet lasagna is to cut down on preparation time. And it doesn't make a bucket load, which is nice if you only have two to four people eating it.

I made mine in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, though any large skillet would certainly do. Leslie told me I had to try no-cook lasagna noodles, so I used those. A word of caution. If you use regular noodles, you will probably have to break them up into small pieces and turn them occasionally in the sauce to be sure they cook. Also plan on about 10-15 more minutes of cooking time.

Now, I had my heart set on layers, just like a regular lasagna, so that's why this is Skillet and Three Bowl Lasagna. You can cook everything in the skillet, but if you want layers, you need to take everything out to layer it properly.

The number of noodles will depend somewhat on the size of your skillet and the size of the noodles. You will have to break them to fit into the skillet, which is fine. So plan on 9+ noodles. It's a great way to use up broken pieces. Be sure to fill in around the corners with little bits but make sure they're covered with sauce so they don't dry out.

Be sure to slice the mozzarella in thin slices so you won't end up with a mouthful of chewy cheese. (Okay, I know some of you are thinking chewy cheese sounds good!) Grated mozzarella would work, too.

There are two ways of preparing this: stovetop and oven. I think it's fabulous that it can be done on the stove top. Remember that you need a lid for that method. Cover the lasagna and let it simmer for about 25 minutes. I happen to like putting things in the oven and forgetting about them while they bake. I did not use a lid at all but be sure you have an oven-proof skillet.

Layer however you like but be sure you have a layer of sauce either over or under the noodles.

The verdict? It's pretty good! There's still some chopping and cooking to do, so allow yourself about an hour of prep time. Still, that's a lot less than my old way of making lasagna!

Skillet and Three Bowl Lasagna

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (about one small onion)
4 large garlic cloves
3/4 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided 1/2 + 1/2
1 teaspoon salt, divided 1/2 + 1/2
1 egg
1 cup Ricotta cheese
26 ounces of your favorite pasta sauce
1 cup chopped tomatoes with liquid
9-ish no-cook lasagna noodles
4 - 6 ounces or so mozzarella, thinly sliced or grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

If using oven, preheat oven to 350.

Chop the onions and mince the garlic. Slice the mozzarella. Heat the olive oil on medium in the skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the ground beef, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and cook, breaking up the meat until the beef is cooked though. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and mix. Remove to bowl #1.

While the onions and the beef are cooking, place the egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in bowl #2 and whisk together. Add the ricotta cheese and combine. Set aside.

Mix together the pasta sauce and the chopped tomatoes in the skillet. When they are warm and combined, remove to bowl #3, leaving enough sauce in the skillet to cover the bottom.

Lay the noodles over the sauce in the pan, breaking them as necessary to fit. Top with half the meat mixture. Then spoon 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the meat. Layer 1/2 the mozzarella on the pan and top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles and top with the remaining meat, then the remaining mozzarella, and then the remaining sauce. Top with the mozzarella. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes. Test a corner of pasta to be sure it's cooked through.

Let rest 10 - 15 minutes before cutting.

Cook onions in olive oil.
Cook ground beef, onions, garlic, and herbs. Bowl #1.
Lightly whisk onion, herbs, and salt, then add ricotta. Bowl #2.
Combine sauce and chopped tomatoes. Bowl #3.
Layer pasta and meat over sauce.
Add slices of mozzarella.
Make a second layer.


  1. Sounds yummy and fairly easy! I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh wow! It looks so good. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Thank you, Jen. It turned out better than I expected.

  3. Easy is good. Few dishes to wash is good. Sounds delicious! (Wonder if I have all the ingredients right now?)

    1. LOL! That's how I felt, Sheila! Ricotta isn't one of my staples, though.

  4. What a fun idea.
    Bottled sauce can be pretty darn good. Just read the label first.

    1. Libby, I'm such a label reader that I even read the labels on cat food!

    2. Hey! Kitties deserve healthy food, too.

  5.! :)

  6. Perfect for these chilly days! And don't you love those no-boil noodles?

    1. I'm glad you recommended them, Leslie. I think it would be hard to tell the difference in a taste test!

  7. Fascinating!! I still like to make it and bake it - basically because the gluten-free noodles really need that baking. My family can't tell the difference when I use GF or regular noodles, which tells you it's the "other" ingredients that matter.

    ~Daryl / Avery

    1. I have bought gluten-free noodles before. They're pretty good!

  8. Looks yummy. I was skeptical about the no bake noodles the first time I tried them, but they're great! One bottled sauce that's good (although expensive) is Rao's. I'm very finicky about my pasta sauce, and I like it.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Peg. I'll look for Rao's.