Stovetop lasagna

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

Listen, chatty Kathy, take me to the recipe

It’s so cold. And so dreary. And so dark. All I want to do is hibernate under a giant blanket and eat cheesy pasta. You?

But, I also feel really low energy. Like, I don’t have the wherewithal for a complicated, multi-step, multi-method recipe. So, I reconcile these incompatible ideas with stovetop lasagna. Cook the noodles in a jarred sauce, top with cheese, and serve. Seriously, so so easy and so so good.

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese
Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

A few notes:

  • I added turkey to this dish to increase the protein, but feel free to leave it out to make it vegetarian.

  • There’s pesto in the ingredients photo because adding some dollops of pesto in this dish is fab. But I bought a mass-market brand pesto that was, in a word, inedible. So, I wanted to add it to the photo, but we actually eat the food I photograph and I could NOT stomach this sauce. Use one you’ve had before and liked, one you’ve made, or skip it.

  • When you start the noodle cooking, make sure the noodles aren’t touching (see the photo above). They’ll start touching through the cooking process and you’ll stir to keep them from sticking together, but I’ve found that as long as you start off with the noodles not touching, they’re easy to separate later on.

  • It might seem like a lot of liquid, but the noodles soak up a lot of it and you still want the sauce to be saucy.

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

Stovetop lasagna

1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1 small onion, minced
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey
3 cups tomato sauce (about a 32 oz jar of sauce)
2 cup stock (turkey, chicken, or vegetable), divided  
13 regular or no-boil lasagna noodles (half of a box, uncooked, broken in half)
Mozzarella balls

In a large cast iron pan (with a lid) or Dutch oven, saute the onions on medium heat until translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, until fragrant.

Add the turkey and cook, breaking up any large chunks, until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and broth and stir to combine. Turn the heat to high to start heating the sauce.

Break the uncooked noodles roughly into halves or thirds (don’t mind the noodle shrapnel that will ensue; just toss it all in the pot) and tuck them into the sauce, making sure they don’t touch each other. (You want them to be perpendicular to how you would normally layer the noodles in lasagna.)

Turn the heat to medium high and cover your pot and cook the lasagna for five minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium or medium low and stir the noodles around (it’s okay if they touch now), cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Uncover and stir the noodles and separate any that have begun to stick together. If the sauce looks like it’s cooking down too much, add more stock ¼ cup at a time.

Cook, uncovered, for 3-5 more minutes. Stir the noodles and sauce frequently to ensure that nothing is sticking or cooking too fast. Add more stock as needed. Cook until the noodles are al dente and just about done.

Add the cheese, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes until the cheese melts.

Yield: 6 large bowls

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese
Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

Creamy tomato and white bean pasta

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TOMATO SEASON IS HERE!!!!!!! I looooooove tomatoes. Love. And so does M (though he mysteriously won't eat them in his lunchbox anymore).

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M does not always love beans though. He eats them, but they aren't on the top of his list.

As anyone who's read this blog knows, I have a relationship with healthy eating. Like all relationships, it takes work and there are lots of struggles. But any article titled, "The Last Conversation You'll Ever Need To Have About Eating Right," I am 100% going to read. I mean, I'm not going to stop having conversations about eating right, but I liked the article and one of my main takeaways was: Beans are good. Full stop. So, we're eating more beans, which is sometimes a struggle with a toddler.

These beans are not the healthiest things I've ever eaten. But a little bit of cream and Parmesan go a long way. A boat load of tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, and fresh thyme also do some heavy lifting to form a dish that is hearty and tasty and takes advantage of the best summer produce.

But the secret ingredient here is patience. Reducing the sauce to a syrupy, caramely sauce gives you maximum tomato flavor.

And then your toddler will eat beans.

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Creamy tomato and white bean pasta 

1 Tbsp olive oil
½ large white onion, minced
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds cherry or other heirloom tomatoes (or a mixture of both)
1 can white beans
2 Tbsp heavy cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup pasta, cooked
¼- ½ tsp salt (more to taste)
pepper
Thyme (2 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried, or to taste)

In a medium pot, bring well- salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

While the water is coming to a boil, mince the onions and garlic. Over medium-low heat, saute the onions for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, or until fragrant.

Chop the tomatoes and add them to the onions and garlic. Turn the flame up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, or until the tomatoes release their water and begin to boil.

The liquid should be at a consistent and vigorous boil. If it isn’t, turn the heat up slightly until the liquid begins to boil. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the tomato liquid has reduced by more than half and become syrupy, about another 8-10 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Continue simmering for 4-5 more minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens. (You should be able to scrape the bottom of the pan and the sauce doesn’t ooze back right away.)

Add the beans and pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Cook for one more minute to heat the beans and the pasta through.

Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh or dried thyme.

Yield: 4 servings (one heaping cup each)

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Meatless Monday: Lentil meatballs

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Well, it's happened. M is officially in preschool. He's officially potty trained. He's officially a kid and not a baby. I'm officially unsure of how I feel. On the one hand, I'm so happy! I'm writing a post without a child hanging on my leg! I'm staring down the gaping maw of 4 whole hours to myself every day!

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On the other hand, it's the end of a really sweet time in our lives. Being home with M all day every day was exhausting and sometimes unfulfilling, but more often it was pretty magical. I was there every time he learned something new or said something hilarious. We had adventures and figured out our new town together and made some friends. Not that those things are over, but it's definitely going to be different. Different in a good way, I hope. We'll see.

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You know what else is different in a good way? Meatless meatballs. (See what I did there?) Seriously though, we've been trying to cut out meat once a week, but not skimp on taste and IT. IS. POSSIBLE. These meatballs are delicious.

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They're tender, but don't fall apart. The garlic and onion powder load them with flavor and the Parmesan gives them a toasty crust when lightly sauteed. And a couple of eggs and some panko bind them together without drying them out.

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A couple of notes:
- You want the lentils to overcook a little, so I cut back on the water and cook them a tiny bit longer than is necessary. The slight mushiness helps to bind the meatball mixture together.

- I've also tried cooking these in a few ways: Roasting keeps the balls very circular, but I miss the slight crunch that comes with sauteeing. And cooking these right in the sauce makes them fall apart a bit. So, sauteeing is the way to go.

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Lentil meatballs

1.5 cup green or brown lentils (makes 3 cups cooked) 
3.5-4.5 cups water* (see notes below)
Large pinch of salt
¾ tsp onion powder
2-4 large cloves garlic, minced
¾-1 cup panko
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
2 large eggs
½ tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp of olive oil

Combine water and lentils* (see notes below) and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer, partially covered, for the times noted below. Our goal here is a slightly mushy lentil, which will help the meatballs stick together.

When all the water has evaporated and the lentils are cooked, drain well over a fine mesh sieve while they cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Combine the lentils and the rest of the ingredients (start with ¾ of the panko and add more later if needed) in a bowl and mix well. The mixture will be sticky and ever-so-slightly slack at this stage, but should be easy to roll into balls. If the mixture feels very slack, sticky, or is hard to form into balls, add the other ¼ cup of panko to the mixture and try again.

Form into balls and chill in the fridge for at 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the meatballs. Let a crust form on one side. Flip the meatballs over and crust the other side. The process should take about 12-15 minutes.

Yield: 12-20 meatballs (1/4 cup to 1/8 cup)

*If using large brown or green lentils, use 4.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups lentils and cook until water has evaporated entirely, about 30-35 minutes. If using small green or brown lentils, use 3.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups lentils and check after 20-25 minutes. If the lentils have too much bite left, but are dry, add 1/4 cup of water, cover partially, and continue cooking, checking every 3 minutes until water has evaporated or the lentils are mushy enough.

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Roasted fennel and salami pasta

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Raise your hand if you never want to eat turkey again. Anyone? Everyone? Okay then. Here is your antidote to all things stuffing, potato, and pumpkin-related.

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If you read my last post, you might be wondering if the turkey did, in fact, knock M out so that he slept away from home. (If you didn't read the last post or just don't care about my kid's sleep habits, I totally get it and you can skip to the recipe by scrolling to the next photo.) The short answer is, no. The longer answer is, we didn't really let him try. After a disastrous nap attempt, we decided to drive home that night instead of risking another all-nighter.,

I was definitely disappointed to head home so early and M was devastated, so it's gotten me thinking a lot about the danger of expectations as we head into the holiday season. Holidays with kids can be tough. They don't care that you've done the same magical thing for 10 years running. If they're tired or hungry or having a day for no reason at all, you just have to adapt.

For the past two years, that has often meant opting out of pictures with Santa and tree lightings because we knew that at 9-months and 21-months, M wouldn't really understand or appreciate them. And I struggled, especially seeing social media postings of others joyfully doing all of the things.

This year, M is older and more aware and so much more of a "kid." He understands holidays and wants to spend time with friends and family, so it feels like we'll be depriving him of something if we pull the plug due to an impending tantrum. He was SO sad to leave my parents' house after Thanksgiving that I worry about changing plans or setting him up by suggesting something if we can't follow through.

I think we'll try our best to be realistic about our plans and only share them judiciously with M. And we'll also try to be gentle with him and ourselves by acknowledging that this a season where everything is heightened in both good ways and bad. The calculus is always shifting about what's "worth it:" Our sanity versus making memories versus M's immediate happiness versus our overall health.

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Anyway, back to the food! I love roasted fennel so so much. I mostly hate the taste of licorice, but fennel is just a little bit anise-y and roasting it takes away almost all of that medicinal bite. We often put roasted fennel on pizza because its taste is satisfyingly meaty without adding any actual meat.

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I guess it's gilding the lily a bit to add meat to the roasted fennel, but the combo of roasted fennel and salami is top notch. I don't cook the meat at all because heat often turns cured meats a bit too gamey for my liking, but if that flavor is your jam, go ahead and saute the salami for a few seconds. 

I always use Marcella Hazan's famous sauce with a couple of small changes: I use less butter than she calls for. I also melt and slightly brown the butter and then saute the onion a bit before adding the tomatoes (she tosses everything together). The sauce is a perfect amount for about 10 ounces of pasta, but if you like a saucier dish, opt for 8 oz instead.

 

Salami and roasted fennel pasta

For the sauce:
1 can or box of crushed tomatoes (28 oz), or about 1.5 cups
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, peeled and halved

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium flame. Place the halved onion cut side down in the butter and let cook for 1-2 minutes, being aware of the butter and not letting it brown too much. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium low, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40-45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.

For the rest:
10 oz dry pasta (a little more than half of the box)
1 lb fennel
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Salami

Preheat oven to 400. Wash fennel and chop into thin slices, trying to keep things as equal as possible. This will be difficult, so don’t sweat it too much. Toss with olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes, until bits start to brown.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

When pasta is cooked, drain it and return to the pot. Cover with sauce and stir to combine. Add the roasted fennel and chopped salami and stir a few times to incorporate.

Yield: 6 servings

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