Wednesday, March 3, 2010


It looks like lasagna, it tastes like lasagna, it even strings like lasagna! But the best part??? It takes about a quarter of the time as lasagna! That's right, all the goodness without the grunt work! I have to be honest here, I got the idea from a Rachel Ray episode, but I did make it my own by putting into casserole form and baking it! So, here's how I do it:

First, boil some water and get your pasta's truly this quick!
Bechemal Sauce:
2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
1 cup milk
minced garlic
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese (or whatever italian cheese you have on hand)
The rest:
spaghetti sauce (jarred or homemade, it's up to you)
mozzarella cheese
You won't need much more than this!
Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the flour. Cook and stir constantly for 4-5 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
Add the milk and garlic. Cook and stir until it starts to thicken.
Add in whatever cheese you like in whatever amount you want. Here I added grated parmesan and this Pecorino Ramono cheese (sheep's milk, but don't tell my kids or me that!) Also season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the cooked pasta. I've used penne, mini penne, some short curly pasta! It's really whatever kind you like.
Pour into a casserole dish. I spray with nonstick cooking spray to make clean up easier. Cover with spaghetti sauce....
Mozzarella cheese....
And bake at 400 until bubbly and golden on top.
You and your kids will LOVE this dish! Seriously, this is what was left after only me and the 3 little ones ate!
Not only will this dish taste great on your table immediately, but it's also a perfect one to prepare and freeze for a later time. Just cover it and freeze it before baking! I love having it on hand for when I want to provide a meal to a friend or family! (Erin, if you are reading this, I had planned on bringing this dish to your baby shower to have in your freezer for after baby came....I'll get it to you somehow!)
I love making a bechamel sauce because once you have the basics, you can dress it up for anything you want. Add onion for more flavor. Add cheddar cheese to make a creamy macaroni, taco seasoning for a mexican casserole, or just plain parmesan for an alfredo. Make it thinner by adding more milk, or thicker by increasing the butter and flour. And, once you get it down, you can make it from memory. This was the first time I didn't consult a recipe and it turned out great.
Good luck...I hope you find a great use for this delicious dish!

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