Isn't quick lasagna an oxymoron? Not when the meat sauce and noodles are cooked in the same skillet. True, it's not the traditional lasagna in which layers are baked together. But all the ingredients are here, meaning it's close -- and a whole lot less work.
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
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1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground beef or meat loaf mix (ground beef, pork and/or veal)
10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded ( ½cup)
½oz. Parmesan cheese, grated ( ¼cup)
Ground black pepper
¾cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor or blender until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart the meat, until lightly browned.
Scatter the pasta over the meat, then pour the processed tomatoes over the pasta. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
Off the heat, stir in half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dot heaping tablespoons of the ricotta over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off the heat until the cheese melts, 2 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.
NOTES: Do not use no-boil noodles in this recipe. If desired, substitute 1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from its casing, for the meat in this recipe, and add 1 chopped red bell pepper to the skillet with the onion.
Source: "The Best Skillet Recipes" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated (2009, $35)