easy weeknight lasagna featuring TJ’s no-boil lasagna noodles

So you know how lasagnas are usually reserved for dinner on weekend nights? Well, not anymore! TJ’s recently (or maybe not, who knows? I just recently noticed it on the shelves so it’s recent to me) came out with sheets of No-Boil Lasagna Noodles that can be layered right into the baking pan without having to be boiled first. So although it’s not the best lasagna that I’ve made in my life, it’s still pretty good. But more importantly, and here’s the selling point, it’s one less pot to wash on a weeknight which makes it a YES in my book.

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Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
  • 1-pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28-ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesan
  • Basil, chiffonade plus whole leaves for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In the meantime, brown the ground beef in a saucepan over high heat. When the meat is browned, add in the onions, garlic and entire can of San Marzano peeled tomatoes. Lower the heat to medium and let everything cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Add in the tomato paste, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Continue stirring and cooking down the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency.

Now it’s time to layer your lasagna! Grab your baking pan and spread enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. On top of that goes your first sheet of lasagna noodles. Then sauce again, followed by ricotta, Parmesan, chiffonade(d?) basil, and lasagna noodles. Repeat with as many layers as will fit in your baking pan, leaving about 1/2-inch at the top to prevent overflow. Bake the lasagna in the oven until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice, and serve with an optional basil leaf for garnish.

Hopefully you have enough sauce to get you through! I didn’t make it, as you can see by that dried-out piece of noodle peeking through the cheese on my top layer ><.

black bean rotini fiesta

With the weather finally warming up again, I’m starting to think about my summer bod more and more. For me, this involves contemplating dusting off my running shoes and hitting the streets – yet to happen – and collecting all of my willpower to resist the sugar and butter cravings that I’ve been letting myself succumb to over the holidays. To fight the cravings, I’ve been filling up my grocery cart with fruits and vegetables to make me feel guilty about eating anything else when there’s plenty of good produce slowly deteriorating every day in my fridge. I think it’s working? Though what would I give for a cronut right now…

Anyways, out of curiosity, Phil and I had purchased a bag of organic, gluten free black bean rotini from Trader Joe’s that has been sitting on our pantry shelf for a few weeks now. I didn’t know what to do with it for a while, but seeing the peppers, tomatoes, and red onions in our fridge inspired me to put together a fiesta-themed dish because black beans –> Mexican food –> fiesta! At least that’s how my train of thought went.

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Ingredients:

  • black bean rotini
  • sausage or chorizo, coined
  • bell peppers, medium dice (the more colors the better!)
  • grape tomatoes, halved
  • jalapeños, small dice
  • red onion, diced
  • corn, cooked and off the cob
  • peas, cooked
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • any blend of cheese for topping

Directions:

  1. Cook the rotini as per the instructions on the package and drain when al dente. In the meantime, get your knife work done for all of the vegetables.
  2. Heat up some oil in a pan and lightly sear the sausage or chorizo.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the rotini, sausage or chorizo, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, jalapeños, red onions, corn, and peas with enough olive oil to lightly coat the rotini. Season to taste with salt while tossing.
  4. Top the black bean rotini fiesta mix with any blend of cheese to finish.
  5. Get your party on.