With its layers of tasty ground beef and succulent tomato, cheesy white sauce and soft noodles, what's not to love about lasagna? Yet, the long preparation required in a classic lasagna recipe can be off-putting, especially when you're tired after a long day at work. The good news is that there are plenty of shortcuts you can take when making lasagna that save time and labor without sacrificing taste.
How to Make a Lasagna Recipe Easy
A classic lasagna recipe often requires skinning fresh tomatoes, simmering the meat sauce for hours, precooking the sheets of lasagna noodles and carefully making a bechamel sauce from flour, butter and milk. Begin to cut down on the time and effort you put in by substituting a jar or two of meat spaghetti sauce for the homemade ground beef and tomato layer in your lasagna. You can buy some delicious, high-quality, premade pasta sauces nowadays.
Secondly, rather than creating a white sauce from scratch, mix together a selection of cheeses including a soft, mild cheese like ricotta. The soft cheese softens as the lasagna bakes, turning into a liquid that resembles bechamel sauce. Include a stronger cheese like Parmesan for that salty flavor and mozzarella for texture.
Finally, why go through the trouble of cooking lasagna noodles when no-cook noodles are available? Provided that the tomato sauce is runny, the noodles will absorb the moisture and soften while the lasagna cooks in the oven. No-cook noodles are also much easier to handle compared to trying to layer hot, soft, cooked noodles.
Best Lasagna Recipe for Busy Cooks
Total Time: 50 minutes | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 6
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups ricotta cheese or small-curd cottage cheese
1 (8-ounce) pack no-cook lasagna noodles
2 (14-ounce) jars meat spaghetti sauce
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grate the mozzarella cheese and finely grate the Parmesan cheese.
- In a bowl, mix the grated Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the grated mozzarella cheese with 2 cups of ricotta or cottage cheese.
- Place the lasagna noodles on the bottom of a baking dish that measures 12 inches by 8 inches and is 2 inches deep. Overlap the noodles slightly where they meet. (If you only have a smaller, deeper dish, add another layer of noodles, meat sauce and cheese mixture and cook the lasagna about 5 minutes longer.)
- Spread 2/3 of a jar of spaghetti sauce over the noodles.
- Spread half of the cheese mixture over the spaghetti sauce. (If the spaghetti sauce is very runny, making it difficult to spread the cheese on top, scoop spoonfuls of the cheese mixture onto the sauce and gently spread them with the back of the spoon. Don't worry if the result is rather lumpy. The cheeses will melt and spread out as the lasagna cooks.)
- Cover the cheese mixture with a second layer of noodles and then spread another layer of the same amount of spaghetti sauce followed by the rest of the cheese mixture on top.
- Place a final layer of noodles on the cheese and spread the final 2/3 of the jar of spaghetti sauce over them.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the sauce.
- Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the mozzarella has melted and slightly browned.
If you have some dried oregano in your kitchen cupboard, add a teaspoon of it to the spaghetti sauce for extra flavor and sprinkle a pinch of the herb over the top of the dish as a garnish.