Deconstructed Lasagna

by Cate on August 20, 2008

I’m a firm believer that everything is better with bacon.  And cheese.  And my friend Gwen says everything is better with bourbon.  Now, I’d like to add wine to the list.  I don’t particularly care for wine by itself, although I am a big fan of it in a mixed drink (hello Mom Juice!) and cooking with it.   Cooking with wine is a simple way to take a recipe to a whole ‘nother level.   It gives the dish a deeper flavor level, and in a lot of cases, the cook-all-day taste.

Enter Two Sauce Weeknight Lasagna Bowls.  Leave it to Rachael Ray to have a long name for a simple recipe.  I’m calling it Deconstructed Lasagna.  So there.  I happened to catch a recent episode of her 30 Minute Meals show on Food Network, and this was one of the dishes she made.  It has a lot of the components of traditional lasagna, without the extra time spent in the kitchen to make it.  Now we’re talking. 

In a nutshell, you make the white sauce and coat the pasta with it.  When serving it, you put a couple spoonfuls of the red meat sauce in the middle of the bowl.  By the time the bites get to your mouth, your tastebuds will think “lasagna.”  And with 30 minutes from start to finish (yes, that’s exactly how long it took me), that’s a pretty good trick.  And the wine?  Makes the sauce amazingly good.  Like almost moaning good, and that’s a great compliment for a 30 minute recipe.

Give this one a try the next time you’re craving lasagna.  It’s a tasteworthy reward for little effort.

With the herbs and spices in this one, I’m sending it to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted by Cooking 4 All Seasons this weekend.

Hungry for more lasagna recipes?
Elise at Simply Recipes goes classic with a reader’s version of lasagna.
Cooking with Amy goes with an eggplant version.
If you have basil to put to use, you may want to try Andrea’s Spinach and Basil Lasagna.
The Leftover Queen tries out a polenta version with fire-roasted tomatoes.

Two Sauce Weeknight Lasagna Bowls
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2008

Classic lasagna in my family is made by layering thin lasagna noodles, preferable egg pasta, with layers of bechamel or white sauce, and a light meat sauce. Here, curly short-cut pasta is topped with the white sauce and topped with a rich meat sauce for mixing in.

1 pound Campanelle pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, a couple of thick slices, chopped
3/4 pound ground beef pork and veal mix or ground beef
1/2 large carrot, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1 small to medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, 2 chopped or grated, 1 peeled
1/2 teaspoon allspice, a couple of pinches (I skipped)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Nutmeg, to taste (I skipped)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus some to pass at table
A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

Heat large pot of water to a boil, salt water and cook pasta to al dente. While pasta water comes to a boil, heat olive oil in a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat, add pancetta and render 2 to 3 minutes then add meat and break up as it browns. When the meat has begun to caramelize and develops a nice brown color, 4 to 5 minutes, add carrot, onion, 2 cloves of garlic, allspice, salt and pepper and a bay leaf. Cook 3 to 4 minutes more to soften onions and carrots bits then stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in wine and cook out 1 minute then stir in stock and reduce heat to simmer.While red sauce cooks, cut remaining whole clove of garlic and rub the inside of a medium sauce pot with it. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add in flour and whisk together a minute or so then whisk in milk and bring to a bubble, reduce heat then season sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, thicken 8 to 10 minutes.Toss pasta with white sauce and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Serve pasta in individual bowls and top with a ladle of meat sauce in the middle of the bowl for mixing in. Garnish with parsley.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tommy V August 20, 2008 at 11:52 pm

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm that looks good. I will have to try it.


Kristen August 21, 2008 at 8:01 am

I love the thought of this recipe. Such a great idea and much less time consuming!


Kris August 21, 2008 at 8:11 am

Just printed this out for a “Must try soon” dinner.


Patsy August 21, 2008 at 8:18 am

I love when one of her recipes really hits the table in 30 minutes! This one looks like a winner!


claire August 21, 2008 at 10:58 am

I have a recipe that was a favorite of mine when I was a kid. We called it “fake lasagna.” It looks very similar to this but uses cream cheese in the white sauce. It is SO good and very simple. I’ll have to pull out the recipe and send it to you.


Srivalli August 21, 2008 at 11:18 am

thanks for the lovely entry!


shannon August 21, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Yum! Looks great. I can’t wait to try it. The family all loves lasagna, but it is one thing I hate to make. Too much effort.


Aggie August 23, 2008 at 9:38 pm

I like this Deconstructed Lasagna! Looks delish!

Thanks for visiting my blog! Hope you post your Gruyere and Ham pizza!! That sounds awesome!


Kim/hormone-colored days August 24, 2008 at 10:32 am

The last time I made lasagna, I had my husband cooke the noodles and he made too many. I also had extras of some of the other ingredients. So the next night, I simply heated them all up in a pot and told my boys it was “Lasagna Mix-up.” It didn’t look pretty, but it tasted like lasagna and everyone ate it up.


Susan August 25, 2008 at 11:02 am

I made my own version of this over the weekend and it was fabulous. I’ve renamed it Mock-sagna. :-P


Kalyn August 30, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Sorry I am so slow at catching up on the WHB entries. I had a very rough week going back to school! Sounds tasty. Sometimes RR really comes up with a good one.


George May 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm

It is true that everything is better with bacon and cheese. Only one thing is even better though – organic bacon and organic cheese.


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