Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion's Skillet Lasagna

October 18, 2016

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: It turns out lasagna can happen any old weeknight, if you’re smart about it—in fact, it can happen in the time it would take to make your average spaghetti with Marcella's tomato sauce. And in one fewer pot. Note: No-boil lasagna noodles are pre-cooked and dehydrated again—but that doesn’t mean that they’re a poor substitute. If you can’t find no-boil noodles, Brennan and Campion say you can substitute regular lasagna noodles—you’ll just have to cook them first (keep them very al dente because they’ll continue to cook in the sauce). Adapted slightly from Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen (Rodale, 2013).Genius Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Large pinch of hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 sprig basil, plus a handful of basil leaves
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles (they aren't all 9-ounce, so be sure to check!)
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced and patted dry
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In a large high-sided sauté pan with a 3-quart capacity and a lid, heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausages and cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat, until browned, about 4 minutes. Leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, transfer the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions, garlic and pepper flakes to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the oregano, the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher, the sprig of basil, and the cooked sausage and any juices. Season with salt and pepper, then gently simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the seasonings (it should be a little salty) and discard the basil sprig. Editor's note: Canned tomatoes can vary—if it’s really soupy (and you’re not into that) you can let the liquid boil off a little more, if it’s looking dry, add a little water.
  3. Break half of the lasagna noodles in half crosswise (it’s fine if smaller pieces break off) and as you do so, push each piece into the sauce under the sausage, distributing them evenly throughout the pan (it can help to do this off the heat, and to use an extra noodle to nudge them under—try to leave a little cushion of sauce beneath them, so they don't stick to the bottom and burn). Break the remaining half of the noodles in half and distribute them evenly over the sauce, then push down on them with the back of a spoon to submerge them. Cover the pan and gently simmer (raising the heat a little, if needed) until the noodles are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 12 minutes.
  4. Dollop the mascarpone over the lasagna and swirl it into the sauce. Top with the mozzarella and gently simmer, covered, until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, top with the basil leaves, tearing any large ones. Let the lasagna rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, then serve.

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Reviews (86) Questions (0)

86 Reviews

Thom October 21, 2018
I had an impromptu Sunday gathering tonight and made this for dinner. As my guests socialized around the kitchen island, getting the evening started with a couple of bottles of wine and some nibbles, I made the lasagna. After letting it rest for the recommended 10 minutes we moved into the lowly lit dining room with lasagna, warm crusty bread and butter and a simple green salad with a light homemade vinaigrette. Dessert was a chocolate pecan pie I made earlier in the day. This is the perfect entree for casual entertaining. <br /><br />A few tips:<br />1. I used a 3 quart All Clad sauté pan. It worked perfectly<br />2. I pulsed two 28oz cans of whole tomatoes in the Vitamix vs using a potato masher. Just a few pulses is all it takes for a chunky texture<br />3. Do not get all crazy with the pasta. The pasta can be “layered” in the pan without having to remove the sauce as others have suggested. This is not a perfectly layered lasagna. It is a rustic interpretation<br />4. I used a pound of fresh, sliced mozzarella. Why not?<br />5. After letting the mozzarella settle on the top for a couple of minutes, I placed the lasagna under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt and lightly brown the mozzarella<br />6. There is more than enough time to clean as you go, set the table and keep your guests hydrated as this lasagna is being prepared<br /><br />I’ll make this again. <br /><br />
 
Kate V. September 13, 2018
This was a favourite with the men of my household. “Don’t change a single thing!” My son is a lasagna lover. <br />Some small alterations: I added wine when I sautéed the onion, used pork sausage, added some tomato purée to the sauce and broiled the top to get that nice browned mozzarella action happening. Don’t forget to serve with fresh bread!
 
MJ February 8, 2018
Just made this last night! It was delicious and got rave reviews. It took me about an hour, so that's longer than qualifies as "weekend meal" for me. It was also a bit too rich for me personally, so I'm going to attempt to modify it into a vegetarian version since I still have leftover noodles & cheese. By the way, somebody below suggested using ricotta instead of mascarpone, but I thought the mascarpone was perfect. You want to blend it totally in to the sauce, creating a layer of super lucious sauce.
 
Jason January 11, 2018
Never usually comment on recipes but this was great! Gf and I have been eating the leftovers all week. My only concern going in was I didn't have a high sided saute pan. Used my dutch oven, worked great. Can't wait to make this again.
 
Kathy B. January 11, 2018
Hi. Thanks for the kind words. So glad you liked it--and that it works in a Dutch oven :)
 
betsyl March 21, 2017
Has anyone adapted this to a 9 x 13 pan? I need to make a large amount (probably two pans worth) for my daughter's birthday dinner and just wondering about conversion. Thanks in advance for any guidance!
 
Yayita February 19, 2017
This was a hit with my bf and my neighbor! I followed the recipe for the most part but did make a few minor adjustments based on some of the comments I read: <br /><br />1) When the instructions asked to push pasta into the sauce, I ladled all but one cup of the pasta sauce with sausage into the bowl I used to hold the browned Italian sausage. Then I proceeded to place the first layer of pasta, and then scooped out a bit of the reserved pasta sauce with sausage to cover the first layer, and kept doing this until I ran out of pasta (a total of 4 layers). A couple of people mentioned that it was a lot of pasta but I think that the way the recipe is written that it seem as it should only be a couple of layers. I felt that had I followed the instructions on how to place the pasta I wouldn't have been able to use all of the pasta, so grateful I read about the layering strategy from someone else.<br />2) I read in another comment that to intensify the flavor that they used tomato paste and added a bit of sugar. Which I thought was a good tip but I ended up no following it because I used San Marzano whole tomatoes in this recipe. In case anyone is wondering why this brand specifically, I became a believer after reading Food52's explanation on it https://food52.com/blog/18948-are-san-marzano-tomatoes-worth-it. It's explained that they grown in Italy, Mount Vesuvius and I quote "The volcanic soil makes them sweeter, less acidic." <br />3) To deepen the umami in the dish I crushed and smashed 2 anchovies into the sauce.<br />4) Based on another comment, I placed the skillet under the broiler for a couple of mins to completely melt the mozzarella. <br /><br />Overall, I am very pleased with the recipe as it took me about an hour and 15 mins to complete it (I took my time so I am sure 40-45 mins is doable if you have your mise in place). <br /><br />A couple of other observations I wanted to make. The dish's surface naturally wraps as the pasta cooks and the dish settles, you can see this in the photos as well. Before making it I kept wondering how they had accomplished making the photos appear with so much cheese texture haha but it turns out it's the pasta that wraps a bit under the cheese making those ripples on the surface. And if you plan to photograph your end result keep in mind that the minute you place the basil leaves on top that they will wilt and turn black quickly due to the heat from the cheese; so be quick with your photographs! <br /><br />
 
Linda D. January 19, 2017
Made this last night for supper, and what a delicious, delightful surprise. The next time I prepare this dish, I will use fewer lasagna noodles. Even though I used a 4.5 quart skillet, the nine ounces of lasagna looked as if it over whelm the skillet. I removed about half of the noodles and that looked more balanced.
 
BeverlyW January 8, 2017
I found this recipe yesterday, and made it for dinner tonight as described. It was AWESOME! My family said it is 'dinner party worthy'! I've never used no-boil noodles before, they have such a nice texture and flavor when soaking up the sauce. I will definitely be adding this to our regular rotation!!!
 
Eileen S. January 7, 2017
I made this twice but cut the recipe in half each time. Was easy to cut in half. Used ground pork instead of sausage and added red wine for additional liquid. Was a lovely, delicious surprise. Fully meets my daughter's craving for pasta, while still being able to pass it off as "lasagne." A fun endeavor. Try it!
 
Rachel Z. January 2, 2017
I wouldn't bother with the lasagna noodles. They took longer to cook and seemed more trouble than they were worth. Next time I'll use bow ties and make sure they're submerged. Great version of lasagna with less cheese!
 
Valerie N. December 20, 2016
I made it just as written. Very delicious and satisfying. Definitely quick and easy.
 
Pamela P. December 16, 2016
Also suggest mixing the mascarpone BEFORE adding the top noodles.
 
Pamela P. December 11, 2016
Your caution about too much liquid led me to over-reduce before adding the pasta. Had to add water because the top was just laying there high and dry.<br /><br />I used my canned tomatoes, which may have less water than store bought. All their liquid comes from their juices.<br /><br />Despite that, the dish was great. <br /><br />Will definitely make it again.
 
lois December 2, 2016
I made this last night and was pleasantly surprised. Things that are supposed to be quick rarely are! It took me closer to an hour than the 40-45 minutes some folks are reporting, but that was still within my time budget for the evening. I did everything as directed (without stressing too much about the noodle placement) but stuck the pan under the broiler at the end. Otherwise I was not convinced the mozz on top would melt before everything on the bottom got burned and stuck to the pan. I will definitely make this again!
 
Joan -. December 1, 2016
On my second go with this recipe, I took it to a car-camp potluck dinner and it was a hit. I was hoping to have leftovers for dinner the next day but nothing survived. I prepared the recipe as written through the sauce-making stage than poured that into a couple of quart jars. In the half hour prep time I had in camp, I heated the sauce, tucked in the pasta proceeded. <br />Rich and creamy with stretchy strings of mozzarella - it was just right for a chilly evening.<br />I need to work on my pasta-tucking technique so I'll be making lasagna again soon.
 
Jean L. November 29, 2016
Great recipe. It comes together quickly and is deliciously satisfying. I added a little anchovy paste (1 tbs) and some Parmigiano cheese (1/3 cup) as it is to my taste. Don't stress over getting the noodles submerged, just stuff 'em into the pan with a little sauce in between each so they don't stick together. I am really pleased with this dish. :)
 
Rachel P. November 20, 2016
This recipe is a keeper!! My family loved it and keeps asking me to make it again. It was easy to make thank you
 
cratecooking November 12, 2016
Great idea for jazzing up a camping menu!
 
Diane K. November 7, 2016
Great recipe! What I did to intensify the flavor was to add a can of tomato paste once the onions and garlic were cooked. Added some sugar and cooked the rawness out of the paste.<br /><br />Also added some fennel to the sausage and hit it with dry Marsala. Also added Marsala to the tomato sauce.<br /><br />Easy and delicious one pan meal!
 
Carey L. November 6, 2016
I grew up with cottage cheese being used in lasagna, so perhaps that's why I didn't miss the ricotta as much as others did. I went with cream cheese since that's what was in the fridge and I really enjoyed the creamy little pockets it ended up providing. A little hidden treasure!