Cast Iron Skillet Lasagna

It’s been just over a week since I made this for dinner and I’m finally getting around to sharing it. That’s what happens when all three kids get sick in the same week, at the same time….

This is not a quick weeknight recipe – I only make this on a Friday or Saturday when things are usually not as crazy around the house. It’s very easy to make but involves taking out the food processor. I HATE the food processor. Digging it out, using it for 30 seconds, then cleaning and putting away all those parts!  The recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen and I’ve adapted it slightly for my family’s tastes. You can find the link to the original recipe here and my variations will be noted below.

Ingredients

  • Three 14.5 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (recipe calls for Italian sausage but we like to use 93% lean)
  • 12 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese (original recipe calls for 2 cups, we like extra)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I have also used Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked and broken in half (original recipe uses no-boil noodles)

1. Preheat ove‌n to 400º F. Boil water and cook lasagna noodles according to instructions on the box. I cook about a minute or two less since they will be going in the oven. (ATC’s recipe calls for the no-boil lasagna noodles, however I find that in my oven it takes too long for them to cook all the way through in the middle).

2. Pulse tomatoes and their juice in a food processor. The original recipe suggests for 10 seconds, until coarsely ground. My kids don’t like chunks of tomato so I do about 20-30 seconds.

3. Heat 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering and hot. Add onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook another 30 seconds. (Original recipe also calls for the addition of 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes here. My kids are not happy if they get a taste of the tiniest flake so usually I just add regular ground black pepper instead.)

4. Add the ground beef and cook all the way through, until no pink remains. Sometimes I use my potato masher to help break up the meat.

5. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.

6. While sauce simmers, prepare the cheeses. In one bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg yolk, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper. In another bowl combine the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Set 1 cup of this mixture aside.

7. Once sauce has thickened slightly, transfer it to a third bowl. Spread about a cup of the sauce over the skillet and then arrange lasagna noodles around it as shown below. Scoop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and then sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella mixture on top of that. Add 1/3 of the sauce on top of the cheeses. Repeat this layering process two more times, beginning with the noodles and ending with the sauce. Sprinkle the reserved 1 cop mozzarella mixture over top. **Note – We do not love ricotta cheese in this house so I typically use about 1/2 to 3/4 of the ricotta mixture. We also love our carbs, so I use more noodles than shown in the original recipe.

Noodles!
Layering
Ready to go in the oven

8. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook about 30 minutes – sauce should be boiling and cheese browning on top. It’s best to let cook about 10 minutes, as suggested in the original recipe. However, my kids are usually starving and can’t wait – so it ends up looking like this when you cut into it to soon (but tastes just as delicious!)…..

If you would like the perfect dinner roll to serve with this, try Cook’s Illustrated Fluffy Dinner Rolls. I’ve made them several times and the dog never gets a crumb!

Give these both a try and let me know what you think!

 

 

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