deconstructed lasagna

cold and rainy in your neck of the woods too? it's the perfect time of the year for hot, steamy bowls of pasta! lasagna is one of my favorites, yet i make it maybe once a year, simply because i don't have the patience for it. and seem to burn the tips of my fingers every time i make it while handling hot noodles during assembly. so dealing with the noodles is completely cut out and instead, the meat sauce and alfredo sauce are layered with short cut pasta. simple. delicious. and ready in about 30 minutes.

there's an obvious absence of ricotta cheese from this recipe. i am not a fan of ricotta in lasagna, and ever since a good friend turned me on to bechamel with stuffed shells, i haven't looked back. if you simply can't live without it, add a tablespoon or two to the bottom of your pasta bowl before you add the pasta.

deconstructed lasagna
adapted from rachael ray
30 minutes, serves 4-6 adults

1 pound short cut pasta, any shape (i used campanelle)
1 pound ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for passing
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  1. cook the pasta al dente. reserve one cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and set aside.
  2. while the pasta is cooling, make the meat sauce. heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. coat the bottom with olive oil and add the meat. break up the meat and cook until it starts to brown, about five minutes.add the garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes. season with salt, pepper, allspice, and worchestershire sauce. stir well and cook about five minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked out of the mixture. deglaze the pan with the wine then add the beef stock. stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. keep the tomato sauce at a steady simmer while preparing the alfredo sauce.
  3. make the alfredo sauce. melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. add the flour and whisk about 3 minutes until the flour cooks (turns light brown. if you skip this step, the sauce will taste like flour - no good!). whisk in the milk. make sure you continuously whisk, or the milk will scorch on the bottom of the pan. turn up the heat to medium-high. simmer for about three minutes, until it thickens, and whisk the whole time. once thickened, stir in the parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper and a pinch (or two) of nutmeg. add pasta cooking water, about a half a cup at a time, to thin out the sauce to the consistency that you like.
  4. assemble your bowls by layering noodles, meat sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, alfredo sauce, and a few torn basil leaves.

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