How To Make Everything Taste Like Your Favorite Food

Okay people, this is important: National Lasagna Day is July 29! Being that most of us will not have the time (or the energy) to make a fresh lasagna from scratch, we wanted to offer some ideas on how to make everything — and anything — taste more like our favorite food. Here are three recipes you can make at home to ensure that everything you put in your mouth tastes like lasagna.
Photograhy by: Jackie Alpers.
Parmesan-Crusted Lasagna Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The secret to a perfectly melty grilled cheese sandwich is toasting it in the oven, instead of over a burner.
Makes 1 giant sandwich, big enough to share 2 large slices Italian bread
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup crumbled Italian sausage
1 tsp olive oil
3 oz sliced fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2. Brown the sausage in olive oil over medium heat. Set aside. 3. Mix together the ricotta, marinara sauce, and nutmeg. Brush both sides of the bread with melted butter using a pastry brush, then sprinkle with the garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Spread the inside of the bread with thick later of the ricotta and marinara mixture 4. Top one slice of bread with slices of mozzarella cheese, then top with the other slice of bread, ricotta side down. 5. Grease an oven-safe skillet (cast iron is perfect if you have it), with the remaining melted butter. Then, toss a tablespoon or two of Parmesan cheese in the bottom of the pan. 6. Set the sandwich in the pan, on top of the Parmesan cheese. Then, pile the rest of the Parmesan on top. 7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until all of the cheese is melted and the top of the sandwich is nicely browned.
Lasagna Tacos
This marries our two favorite foods and takes the sensory goodness to a whole new level.
Yields 10 tacos

1 package crunchy taco shells
1 lb lean, ground beef, turkey, or vegetarian meat crumbles
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup smooth spaghetti sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium heat, pour off any fat that accumulated in the pan. 2. Stir in the Italian seasoning. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomato sauce. 3. Heat the taco shells according to package directions (it should only take a minute or two). 4. Spoon 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese into the bottom of each taco shell. 5. Top with about 1/4 cup of the ground meat mixture, then the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Enjoy!
Photography by: Jackie Alpers.
Layered Lasagna Dip
You can serve this dip with fresh zucchini, carrot and celery slices, pasta chips, or crostini. Or just bathe in it. Yep, it's that good. Ingredients
Serves 8 to 10

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, spicy arrabbiata sauce, or other tomato-based spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, sliced, or use small Ciliegine balls
1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Mix together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce, cream cheese, and half of the Italian seasoning. Spoon it into the bottom of a 1 quart baking dish. 3. Top with a layer of sliced mushrooms, followed by layers of spinach and basil. Add more of the remaining spaghetti sauce to cover the greens and mushrooms completely. 4. Arrange a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce. Sprinkle an even layer of Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes over everything. 5 Garnish with a couple of mushroom slices to make it pretty. 6. Bake for 20 minutes until browned and melty.

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