A Homemade Meal In Half The Time? Yep — It's Possible

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Lasagna isn’t usually a dish you can throw together at the last minute. Even with no-boil noodles, it takes a good amount of time to get the components just right. Our goal was to transform traditional baked lasagna into a stovetop skillet dish without losing any of its flavor or appeal. We built a flavorful meat sauce with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and sausage (a more flavorful alternative to plain ground beef). A large can of diced tomatoes along with tomato sauce provided juicy tomato flavor and a nicely chunky texture. We scattered regular curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into pieces, over the top of the sauce (smaller pieces are easier to eat and serve). We then diluted the sauce with a little water so that the noodles would cook through. After a 20-minute simmer with the lid on, the pasta was tender, the sauce was properly thickened, and it was time for the cheese. Stirring Parmesan into the dish worked well, but we discovered that the sweet creaminess of ricotta was lost unless we placed it in heaping tablespoonfuls on top of the lasagna. Replacing the lid and letting the cheese warm through for several minutes was the final step for this super-easy one-pan dish.

Skillet Lasagna
Serves four to six
Use a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid for this recipe.

Ingredients

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Salt to taste
3 medium cloves garlic, minced and pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tbsp)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb Italian sausage removed from its casing
10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 additional tbsp
Ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil

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Instructions

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

2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about five minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sausage and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about four minutes.

3. Scatter pasta over sausage, but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-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 five minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan. Serve.

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Technique is key here. To cook all of the ingredients in one pan, a little attention to the ordering of the layers is necessary. It may not look like much as you begin the cooking process, but, after 20 minutes and an occasional stir, a layered lasagna appears almost as if by magic.

Start by sautéing onion, garlic, and meat in the skillet. Scatter the broken lasagna noodles over the meat. Then, pour the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce over the noodles. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add Parmesan, dot with ricotta, cover the skillet, and let cheese soften off heat.

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America's Test Kitchen — a real, 2,500-square-foot test kitchen just outside of Boston — is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Their mission? To develop the absolute best recipes by testing, then testing again (and again…) so you feel confident enough in the kitchen to cook everything from a simple, mid-week meal to an entire Sunday dinner party menu.