There is nothing worse than when two sides of yourself are in conflict. For many, the part of us that longs for delicious complex plates of interesting food is opposed to the part of us that is too lazy to contemplate turning off Netflix to start shopping and cooking. Even for those who love to spend time in the kitchen, almost everyone has a dish or two they just don’t bother with due to fussiness.
Lasagna is one of those dishes that can be sort of overwhelming to face. On the one hand, who doesn’t love a large serving of layered noodles, oozing with cheese and bechamel, rich meaty sauce, or vegetables? On the other hand, all those steps! Even if you don’t make your own pasta, you still have to cook the noodles, which inevitably want to stick together in a large clump, shredding into thin strips when you try and detach them. You have to make the cheese filling, the bechamel, the sauce. Spreading the cheese onto the layered noodles can be an exercise in frustration, the unruly noodles trying to slide around in the dish while you get cheese mixture halfway up your elbows.
Enter lazy lasagna. Since the most annoying elements of the dish are the layering of the noodles and cheese, you can eliminate both by just using large cheese-filled ravioli to roll that into one step, no smearing or spreading involved. Boil ’em up and stack them in. For the truly laziest lasagna possible, just layer the ravioli with the bechamel, add your favorite jarred pasta sauce and top with bagged shredded mozzarella. Boom. Lasagna. Deeply satisfying, and really fast and easy. But you don’t really need a recipe for that.
This version below is a little more elegant, and a little bit more work, but still qualifies as semi-lazy just for eliminating the pasta and cheese battle. Yes, you have to make a few elements, but they don’t take long, and you end up with a version that is fancy enough to serve at a dinner party or bring proudly to a potluck. The white bolognese is optional; if you prefer this to be meatless, simply double the mushroom portion. If you are committed to red-sauce lasagna, swap out the bolognese for your favorite tomato version, or a good jarred sauce.
You can also make these smaller, separating the recipe into two square pans if you have a smaller household, and freezing the second for a future use, or divide into individual-sized mini loaf pans for quick meals for one.
This technique of replacing the layered noodles and cheese mix with cooked cheese-filled ravioli can be adapted endlessly. You can even go vegetarian, vegan, or dairy-free by altering the filling of the raviolis you buy. Or do half-cheese and half-meat or vegetable-filled for a a plate of varied flavors.
- 3 lbs. large square cheese filled ravioli, cooked according to package directions (get the largest you can find for ease of layering, frozen is totally fine here)
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 5 Tbsp. flour
- 3 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When it stops foaming, sprinkle the flour over the top, and cook, whisking, until the fat is fully absorbed by the flour and it has cooked down a bit into a thick paste, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and whisk like mad to smooth out the paste and make it a bit liquid. Slowly add the rest of the milk in a steady stream, whisking all the time to prevent lumps. Keep stirring with the whisk as the bechamel comes to a simmer and thickens, easily coating the back of a spoon and leaving trails through it when your whisk moves through.
Keep whisking until it thickens to a level similar to a loose custard or pancake batter. It shouldn’t be soupy, but it also shouldn’t be gloppy. If you think it is too thick, add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you get it the way you like. Remove from heat and add the seasonings, then taste and adjust as needed. Be careful not to go too heavy on salt, as the other elements of the dish are also salted.
- 24 oz. wild mushrooms, any mix you like, or just cremini or baby portobellos, washed and sliced
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Pepper to taste
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When it stops foaming, add the shallot and cook until it is wilted and translucent. Add the mushrooms, tossing to coat in the butter, and then sprinkle the salt over the top. Cook, stirring frequently until the liquid is released from the mushrooms and then reduces to be almost dry, and the mushrooms have gotten beautifully golden brown. Add the lemon zest and sage and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
- 2 oz. bacon
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 oz. ground pork
- 16 oz. ground veal
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the bacon, onion, and garlic until a coarse paste forms. In a large dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onion paste mix until the bacon fat renders out and the onions are wilted and becoming fragrant but are not taking on color. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce until almost completely absorbed. Add the pork and veal and mix well, cooking until they are no longer pink, but are not browning. Add the cream and milk, combine well, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes until thickened and no longer soupy. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste. Depending on how salty your bacon is, you might only need pepper. Set aside to cool.
- 3 cups shredded Fontina cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 Tbsp. chopped chives
Place one even layer of ravioli, about 1/3 of the ravioli in the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13 deep casserole dish. Add 1/3 of the bechamel and spread evenly over the noodles. Layer in 1/2 of the mushrooms, followed by 1/2 of the white Bolognese. Sprinkle 1 cup of fontina and 1/2 cup of parmesan evenly over the sauce, followed by 1/2 of the chives. Repeat these layers. On top add one last layer of the ravioli, followed by the last of the bechamel, spreading evenly to cover the noodles. Top with the remaining cup of fontina cheese and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes until the cheese on top is golden and the whole dish is bubbling. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.