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What’s the Best Weeknight Lasagna Hack in the ‘Garfield’ Cookbook? | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Garfield famously loves lasagna — so much so that Garfield… Recipes with Cattitude!, a 2013 Gooseberry Patch cookbook devotes a chapter to recipes for just lasagna, pasta, and pizza. Looking past the fact that cats don’t really eat lasagna, this is the thing that’s never added up: Lasagna is also famously a lot of work — I would know, since I recently put myself through the paces testing internet-famous lasagna recipes — and Garfield’s human owner Jon, longtime bachelor that he is, isn’t known for being a terribly good cook. There’s no way Jon is making all these lasagnas himself; he’d want something easier (or something frozen).

To that end, the Garfield cookbook offers a few suggestions for ways to simplify lasagna, should you have a Garfield-level lasagna craving but Jon-level chops. They’re easy, budget-friendly techniques that anyone can cook, even if they don’t realize that, for example, Thanksgiving turkeys need more than three hours before the big meal to thaw. I put three of these recipes to the test, each cut down to about two servings, to figure out the best Jon-friendly way to riff on lasagna, and then I went Garfield mode scarfing them all down. The results were much better than I expected.

Emergency Lasagna

“Emergency lasagna” requires neither chopping nor boiling. Here’s the idea: In a baking pan, I layered spaghetti sauce, followed by a layer of uncooked refrigerated cheese ravioli, a sprinkle of thawed frozen spinach, a layer of shredded mozzarella, and a few more spoonfuls of sauce. Then I repeated the process, finishing with a layer of cheese. I covered this “lasagna” with foil, baked it for about 20 minutes, and then baked it for another 10 minutes uncovered to brown the top, just like a regular lasagna. To simplify it even further, I baked mine in the air fryer.

an overhead shot of a small square pan full of “emergency” lasagna, made with ravioli, spinach, red sauce, and mozzarella 

The emergency lasagna.

In theory, this idea is kind of genius: A ravioli is essentially a self-contained layer of lasagna. Incredibly easy and quick, this approach is indeed friendly to the emergency lasagna craving — you could make this at midnight with the munchies with hardly any loud sounds or dishes in the sink to upset your roommates (or stir hungry cats). That being said, this recipe still leaves something to be desired. I found that the ravioli, once layered, ended up a little thick and gummy, and I wanted more creaminess than the ricotta filling could provide, even with the melted cheese between the layers.

Did it fill the lasagna craving? Not quite; I was pretty aware I was eating ravioli. Still, it’s hard to argue with the ease (and the fun of stacking ravioli like Jenga), so if you’re a person who already tends to buy ravioli and sauce, you might enjoy this simple way to switch them up. A note: As with real lasagna, I found the leftovers slightly better. (A similar recipe can be found on Two Peas & Their Pod — just add spinach.)

Bachelor-Style Skillet Lasagna

Effort-wise, this “bachelor-style” recipe is as easy as the emergency lasagna. (What’s more work to you: thawing and draining spinach, or browning ground beef?) In a single pan, I browned half a pound of ground meat, then added a can of broth and half a can of diced tomatoes. Into this liquid, I threw in a handful, or about a cup, of uncooked rotini. I covered it and let it cook for about 12 minutes, and then stirred in shredded mozzarella. Finally, topped with grated parm, it’s “lasagna.”

an overhead shot of a stainless steel pan containing skillet lasagna made with ground beef, diced tomatoes, and rotini noodles

The bachelor-style skillet lasagna.

I’m always skeptical of truly one-pot pasta recipes since I’ve made “skillet lasagna” before, albeit with lasagna sheets, with sad results, including par cooked noodles and wet, unemulsified sauce. However, I was pleased to find that this recipe worked, and that if anything, the noodles ended up slightly on the soft side. As a whole, it was a very satisfying pasta dish.

However, to use the same metric of success as with the emergency lasagna recipe: I’m not sure this would satisfy a lasagna craving. The cheese really becomes one with the sauce, which didn’t give me that cheese-pull quality I go to lasagna for, and if I’m nitpicking, the sauce is on the thin side for what I want in lasagna. So while this method was quite good, I found it better suited to a Hamburger Helping craving than a lasagna craving. (A similar recipe can be found on The Country Cook; to keep it as easy as the Garfield recipe, skip the diced onions and garlic.)

Bow-Tie Lasagna

The pressure was on: This was the most involved, dish-intensive of the Garfield cookbook’s lasagna hacks. I first cooked my bow-tie noodles (a handful, or about a cup). Then I browned the rest of my pound of ground meat with a chopped onion and stirred in a jar of pizza sauce, followed by my cooked noodles and a small container of cottage cheese. I added this to a baking dish, topped it all with shredded mozzarella, and baked it uncovered until the top was browned. (Again, I did it in the air fryer.) Would these extra steps and additional dishes be worth it?

seen from the side, a serving spoon holding layers of simplified lasagna made with ground beef, bowtie noodles, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. the cheese is browned on top and melted cheese is hanging from the spoon.

The bow-tie lasagna.

The Garfield cookbook had set my expectations pretty high. To my pleasant surprise, these lasagna hacks were, in fact, good. This recipe, however, was the very best. Since the noodles cook entirely on their own, it’s easier than with the other recipes to ensure a perfect texture. The pizza sauce is nice and thick. The cottage cheese gives you that creamy dairy that you’d expect from the ricotta or bechamel in proper lasagna. Meanwhile, the mozzarella layer at the top gives you that crispy, lasagna-like crust.

Yes, I’m happy to say that this recipe satisfied like lasagna. That realization inspired a brief existential pondering: Why bother with the time and expense of big-project lasagna when these bachelor-esque approximations get close enough? For a crowd or anyone I’d like to impress, I’d do the former, sure. But if I were cooking for just myself and suddenly wanted lasagna, it’s bow-tie lasagna all the way. (A similar recipe can be found on Gooseberry Patch, which published the Garfield cookbook; just swap in pizza sauce for the diced tomatoes, water, and tomato paste.)

The Winner: Bow-Tie Lasagna

I broke from the bachelor approach of my previous recipe tests and gave my partner a big spoonful. He agreed with my assessment and — to my surprise — even deemed the bow-tie lasagna hack as just as good as some of the proper lasagnas I’ve tested in the past. It’s certainly better than frozen.

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