Butter Together: Lasagna on a weeknight is not im-pasta-ble

 

Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair

 

 

Amelia Plair

 

 

Don't you hate it when you make a dinner that takes a bit of extra effort and your kids beg for the easier, cheaper, and more processed version? That just kills me. 

 

I'll never forget the night when I was a single mom and I came home from work, whipped up a bechamel sauce and melted sharp cheddar into it, poured it over a casserole dish of hot elbow pasta, and slid it into the oven, only to have my then-preschool aged daughter cry because her macaroni didn't "taste right."  

 

On the flip side, I love it when I can make a semi-homemade recipe and have my kids gobble it up and ask for more.  

 

I could tell you that I'd do whatever it takes to feed my family healthy, from-scratch foods daily, but that would be a lie. I have lessons to plan and students to teach and floors to sweep. And so I have to cut a few corners here and there.  

 

For example, learning to make homemade biscuits is still on my bucket list, but in the meantime, Mary B's frozen biscuits are the only kind my family gets. Same goes for bags of vegetables that can be steamed right in their packaging and packets of dressing mix, which I often use to season slow-cooked meals.  

 

In fact, finding recipes that strike a balance between time-saving, processed junk and time-consuming homemade meals might be the Holy Grail of my culinary journey.  

 

To that end, I had been hearing about ravioli "lasagna" for a while before I decided to try it out last week. I did not look up a recipe; I just used what I ordinarily put into lasagna in the amounts I happened to have on hand. It was about as easy as spaghetti with meat sauce but seemed much fancier.  

 

My eldest -- the same one who hated the baked macaroni way back in the day -- ate it up and is already begging me to make it again ... along with the macaroni. 

 

Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at mamabadgerplair@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

LAZY MOM'S LASAGNA 

 

Serves 6-8 

 

 

 

1 (25 ounce) bag frozen cheese ravioli  

 

1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce  

 

1 pound ground beef 

 

16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese 

 

1-2 ounces Parmesan cheese from a wedge (the shaker can type is fine; it won't melt as smoothly but you'll hardly notice with everything else going on in this dish).  

 

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Set a pot of salted water on the stove over high heat and cook ravioli per package directions, minus a minute or two of cooking time.  

     

  • While water heats, brown the beef in a separate skillet, breaking it up with the back of a spoon until it is crumbled and browned through. (To reduce the number of dishes you'll have to wash later, do this in a very large, oven-proof skillet that has high sides and can handle tomato sauce.)  

     

  • When beef is cooked, drain the fat. Mix beef with spaghetti sauce; I did this in the pot in which I'd boiled the pasta while the pasta drained in the colander. Put about half a cup of meat sauce in the bottom of the large skillet or a casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Layer on about half the ravioli. Top with about half the meat sauce. Add about half the mozzarella and several tablespoons of Parmesan.  

     

  • Repeat layers with remaining ravioli, sauce, and cheese, ending with shredded cheese. Place in preheated oven until cheese melts and edges are bubbly, about 30 minutes.

     

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