Quick & Easy Lasagna Casserole
I grew up in the South where family Sunday lunches were a mandatory attendance function. My grandmother used to make her lasagna and I usually was drafted to help. Which as a child meant help granma get ready for lunch or “work”! Now as a mother to seven, I was to pass on those family traditions but I just don’t have the time or energy (perhaps those words should be reversed if being ranked) to spend the majority of Saturday preparing for a lunch on Sunday. Thankfully with all the varieties of RAGÚ Pasta Sauce, I can have lunch done in less than thirty minutes!
We all know that traditions are intensely personal and make us who we are. They help us learn about ourselves and connect us across generations. We want to hold onto and pass down the traditions BUT we also have a desire to create our own. Take my granma’s lasagna, I still will make it on special occasions or when I find myself thinking about her a lot. She was and still is the person that had the most influence on me growing up. She was tough, but she was fair and she loved, oh how she loved on all of us grandchildren.
Our memories and traditions are what makes us unique. I use the word unique because our family is not the traditional family at all. We are a blended family. My husband Gary had three children and he and his wife, Cheryl lived across the street from my house where I lived with my two children. When Cheryl passed away, their children became so important to me that I sort of just moved them over into my family. Eventually, Gary and I married, then adopted our children so they would never have to worry about losing their other parent. Blending the family wasn’t enough, we were blessed with child #6 then child #7!
So you can probably see the need for our not so little family to not only hold close to the different traditions of the two families but also start to create and build our own blended family traditions. We laugh now, but for the first four years we put up two Christmas trees! Both sets of children had a tree and decorations that had been collected since they were born and it was an important part of celebrating the holiday to have “their” tree and ornaments. So we did. When it was time to pack up the fourth year of holiday decorations, we asked each child to select ten ornaments off their tree that were important to them. Then we packed up these ornaments and put them away for them to have on their own tree when they were older and on their own. We also purchased a new tree that would be used from then on with all of the combined decorations. Oh this tree was such a good sport. Even with packing up over 50 ornaments, we still have at least two if not three ornaments hangng from each branch! Our tree was lost to a flood in 2014. Would you believe that 2015 came and went without a tree being decorated at our house! I am hoping that in 2016 this granma will be able to start a new tree with our ten soon to be eleven grandchildren. I want to pass on the stories of the decorations and make new ones for them to have one day when they are older.
Now you know one of our stories, and since this post is about heritage and traditions (and RAGÚ) you should visit the “Our Story” area on the RAGÚ website and learn about their story too. I found it interesting and it elevated my opinion of the brand and their commitment to high standards. Did you know they use the Assunta’s family recipe which is slow simmered to add layers of flavor?
RAGÚ has been a trusted brand since 1937. They are committed to using farm grown ingredients and maintaining affordability in their products. For more information, visit the “Our Sauces” area on the RAGÚ site. Oh, and please don’t miss the pinterest board of RAGÚ. They have some of the best looking dishes that I have ever seen!
Back to my Quick & Easy Lasagna. It has become one of the favorites of the little ones. With as many as we have for family dinners (we are pushing 26 when everyone is home) creating dishes that are quick and easy trumps labor intensive dishes except for special days.
With the crew we have, pasta dishes are almost a no brainer, especially with the variety of RAGÚ Pasta Sauces. One of my go to sauces is the Chunky Garden Combination. Knowing that the sauce includes vegetables and seeing the little ones gobble them up without a word is priceless.
My Quick & Easy Lasagna Casserole can be ready to eat in thirty minutes or less. Grab the following items at the store on the way home: 1 lb. ground beef, 1 box bow tie pasta, 2 jars RAGÚ Pasta Sauce, 1 container cottage or ricotta cheese, 1 bag mozzarella shredded cheese.
When you get home:
- Start with browning a pound of lean ground beef in a large skillet.
- While the ground beef is browning, start a large pot of water to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add a couple of tablespoons of butter or oil and liberally salt the water (Remember this is the only time you can season your pasta is while cooking). Stir in your small pasta (we like using bow ties because they have little ridges that catch the sauce for each bite). Cook according to package, then drain.
- Once the ground beef has browned (drain if necessary) add in one jar of your RAGÚ Pasta Sauce, stirring to combine. Depending on how saucy your crew likes their pasta, add the second jar of RAGÚ Pasta Sauce. My crew likes a little pasta with their sauce so I always use at least two jars of sauce.
- As soon as the pasta is ready and drained, you can start assembling the casserole. Use a large bowl or lasagna pan for this as you will have a TON of casserole!
- Place about a third of your pasta on the bottom of the bowl or pan
- Spoon about a third of your RAGÚ Pasta Sauce over the pasta
- Spread a container of cottage or ricotta cheese (12-15 ounces) over the RAGÚ Pasta Sauce
- Sprinkle one cup of shredded mozzarella cheese over the cottage or ricotta cheese
- Repeat steps 5-8 until you have used all the pasta and RAGÚ Pasta Sauce
At this point the casserole is ready to eat. No need to bake it unless you want to brown the cheese on the top. The heat from the RAGÚ Pasta Sauce and the bow tie pasta will melt the cheeses without having to bake.
Another way to serve this is to make individual dishes in wide mouth jars which the little ones love and they dubbed me an “awesome” granma the first time I served them their own casserole in a jar with their name on it. I know..just awesome huh!! What you can do with a wide mouth jar and a marker! shhh…
Thank you to RAGÚ for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me pass on my family traditions. Please visit the sponsor for more information and recipe ideas.