Baked Lasagna Bowls are great make-ahead meals for busy times. I always make a few of these when I have extra bolognese or marinara sauce hanging about (that is, when I’m not feeling up to making a full-fledged lasagna!). The bowls freeze well for up to 1 month.
Before I get into Baked Lasagna Bowls, let me set the stage for how they came about.
In my “other life” I’m a scientific grants consultant, meaning that I help small businesses apply for early-stage funding from federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In a nutshell, I edit and write grants (plus all of the associated forms) and help navigate the application process.
A big grant deadline passed yesterday for the NIH. My colleague and I were working together on 6 grant applications, which means that we were swamped. In the final days running up to the deadline (Labor Day Weekend, bummer!) we were in survival mode: hardly tearing ourselves away from the computer other than to take care of the basic biological things required to continue functioning.
Before I act all like, “I planned for this!”, I’d better level with you: I let the hubster order pizza for dinner the night before the deadline.
That day, I had started working at 6:30 in the morning. I didn’t stop until after midnight. As I was going to bed, I remembered, “D’oh! I had baked lasagna bowls in the freezer!” So I transferred them into the fridge. At least we’d have a homemade meal the next day. And then I ate a slice of cold pizza.
Making Baked Lasagna Bowls
These baked lasagna bowls are my favorite thing to make after cooking a big batch of marinara or Bolognese sauce—making one of these sauces and prepping these bowls are both great weekend cooking projects. I like to use a fun pasta like cavatappi or radiatori, which I cook to the firm side of al dente: the baked lasagna bowls will go into the oven and cook the pasta the rest of the way.
To assemble the baked lasagna bowls, you’ll need 4 ~20-oz. oven-safe bowls or ramekins. I mix my favorite dried, mixed herbs into the ricotta cheese while the pasta is cooking. Then, after draining the pasta well, I mix about half of the sauce with the pasta and stir in all but 4 tbsp. of the ricotta cheese. I put a layer of sauce (about 1/4 cup) onto the bottom of each bowl, then about 1 and 1/2 cups of the pasta, ricotta, and sauce mixture. I top with another 1/4 sauce, then sprinkle on mozzarella cheese and Parmesan.
The baked lasagna bowls go into a 375º oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. I top with a dollop of the herby ricotta cheese.
Variations on Baked Lasagna Bowls
I highly recommend mixing some vegetables into the baked lasagna bowls: zucchini, spaghetti squash, spinach, or cauliflower work really well for this dish. If you have to be sneaky with your veggie-delivery (e.g., if you have picky eaters), one genius trick I learned is to purée some cooked cauliflower and mix it in with the ricotta cheese. Your picky eater won’t even know it’s there!
Freezing Baked Lasagna Bowls
To freeze these babies, I first cover the bowls with plastic wrap, pressing it down against the surface of the dish. Then I cover tightly with foil. The extra herbed ricotta cheese can also be wrapped up in plastic wrap: then put it into a freezer bag and freeze beside the lasagna bowls. Put the bowls and the herbed ricotta into the fridge 1 day before you plan to eat them. Just be sure to pull off the plastic wrap before you bake!
Baked Lasagna Bowls are a favorite with the hubster and the kids. I’ve also made extras to take over to my parents’ place so that my momma gets a break from cooking.
I hope it’s a hit with your fam!
I’m linking this post up with a few awesome link-share sites: #CookBlogShare and #CookOnceEatTwice both have fantastic recipes from the blogosphere, while #BrillBlogPosts offers great reads—not only can you find posts about food, but you can also read about a variety of topics, from parenting to fashion and more.
- 5 cups warmed Bolognese or marinara sauce or your favorite jarred sauce
- 1 lb. dried cavatappi, shells, or radiatori
- 1½ cups part-skim ricotta cheese divided
- 2 tsp. dried Italian herbs
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375°. Boil the pasta 1 minute less than the package instructs for al dente.
Mix the herbs into the ricotta cheese and set aside 4 tbsp.
Drain the pasta well. Mix in 3 cups of the sauce and all but 4 tbsp. of the ricotta cheese. Divide the mixture into 4 servings (just eyeball it). Into 4 ~20-oz. oven-safe bowls, layer 1/4 cup of sauce, 1 serving of the pasta/sauce/ricotta mixture, another 1/4 cup of sauce, and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese.
Set the bowls onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove from the oven and top each bowl with 1 tbsp. of the herbed ricotta. Sprinkle with a pinch of parsley, if you'd like. Serve.
TO FREEZE THE BAKED LASAGNA BOWLS:
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface of the dish. Wrap tightly with foil. Wrap extra herbed ricotta cheese in plastic wrap, then in a freezer bag; freeze near the lasagna bowls.
Put the bowls and the herbed ricotta into the fridge 1 day before you plan to eat them. Before you bake: pull off the plastic wrap and recover the bowls with foil. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 minutes more. Check with an instant read thermometer to be sure that the middle of the pasta reaches 165°. Top with the herbed ricotta and serve.
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