Valentine's Day is coming and you can make it fabulous without spending a fortune or too much time. Think about a delightful dinner at home for two. With a little planning, you can make this Valentine's Day one you remember and love.
What could be better on a chilly February night than to come home to the delectable smells of a great Italian meal? Even better might be that the meal is a rich, luscious lasagna that takes little time to assemble and only forty five minutes to bake.
How can you pull that off for just two people and without messing up three or four pans to do it?
The answer lies in the oft-forgotten loaf pan languishing among your baking things. With oven ready lasagna noodles and a loaf pan, you can assemble and bake a great homemade lasagna in just under an hour. And you can make the whole meal for less than twenty dollars, including dessert.
So, set that table, break out those candles and prepare to enjoy a romantic evening at home with your honey.
Here's your grocery list:
Caesar Salad Kit in a bag
One head of garlic
One small onion
One small loaf of good Italian or French bread
Barilla oven ready lasagna noodles
Your favorite jar of pasta sauce
Italian seasonings (you may already have this in the pantry)
8 ounces of Italian sausage, ground beef or sliced mushrooms depending on your tastes
3 ounces of Parmesan cheese for grating
One package of shredded Italian cheeses mixed
One 8-ounce package of ricotta cheese
One stick of butter
Two of your favorite individual pastries from the bakery
Here's how you assemble that dinner in just an hour.
First, put the butter out to soften. Then mince the onion and three to four cloves of garlic (you'll need about three tablespoons of minced garlic.) Pull out the loaf pan. Now, follow the lasagna recipe below. Once the lasagna is in the oven, assemble the garlic bread according to the recipe. Set the table and arrange your pastries on a pretty plate.
Five minutes before the lasagna is due to come out of the oven, put the garlic bread into the oven alongside the lasagna. Take the cover off the lasagna and sprinkle more cheese over it's top. Let the lasagna and bread bake that last five minutes or until all the cheeses are melted. Take them out of the oven, assemble your salad and serve the meal.
Loaf Pan Lasagna
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
8 ounces of lean ground beef, Italian sausage or mushrooms
1 tablespoon of olive oil if using mushrooms
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
8 ounces ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
4 sheets of Barilla Oven ready lasagna
24 ounces tomato based pasta sauce, any brand or flavor you like
Preheat the oven to 350oF. In a medium skillet, brown the meat or mushrooms (if using mushrooms, use olive oil with them) with the onion, garlic and one teaspoon of Italian seasonings. While the meat or mushrooms are cooking, beat the egg, add the ricotta. Mix the egg and ricotta together. Mix a half a cup of the shredded cheese, the salt and pepper and a teaspoon of Italian seasoning into the ricotta mixture. Drain any fat off of the met and set the skillet aside. Cover the bottom of a loaf pan with a quarter cup of pasta sauce. Place one lasagna leaf over the sauce. Spread a few tablespoons of sauce over the pasta, then take half the ricotta mixture and spread it over the sauce. Top the cheese with a little more sauce and another lasagna leaf. Put another quarter cup of sauce over that lasagna leaf and put half of the meat or mushroom mixture on top of the sauce. Add another lasagna leaf and cover it with a little sauce. Spread the other half of the ricotta mixture over that layer, then add a little sauce over it topped by another lasagna leaf. Add more sauce and the rest of the meat or mushroom mixture on top of that lasagna leaf, then top with another lasagna leaf and the rest of the sauce on top. Top that final layer with the other half cup of shredded Italian cheeses. Cover the loaf pan with foil and place it in the oven on a sheet pan to catch any drips. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the cover and bake another five to ten minutes until the cheeses on top are golden brown. Let the lasagna sit for five minutes before cutting and serving.
8 ounces softened butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 loaf of good Italian or French bread
Mix the butter, garlic and seasonings together. Slice the loaf in half horizontally. Spread the butter mixture over the cut sides of the bread. Bake at 350oF for five to ten minutes until the butter is melted and the bread is golden brown. Serve hot.