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January 16, 2008

Lasagna For One? Break All the Rules!


Most of us are used to lasagna coming in the form of a big, flat baking pan. For the individual, it guarantees days after days of food, each apportioned out for simple reheating and eating as a single serving.


The question, as must always be asked, is what about the economical mind, the person who wishes only to eat one serving and to have no more in the refrigerator. What is this person supposed to do to get a lasagna fix?


Sadly, that person must become flexible in his perception of lasagna, because the typical lasagna noodle is long and flat. While you could manufacture this kind of noodle in the comfort of your own home, it is an inefficient, unwieldy thing to do.


Better that you look to our good friend the elbow macaroni. It is short and curved, which means that it can be shaped, rather than allowing the noodle shape and size to dictate the pan used.


While a pot full of elbow macaroni boils, brown some ground meat with minced garlic and chopped onion. Once cooked, add some chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and some herbs – oregano, fresh basil and parsley, for instance. Let the tomatoes release their water and cook down. What you will have left is a very basic marinara sauce, which is perhaps not so good if you wish to trick someone into believing that you’ve replicated grandma’s secret pasta sauce. Yet we know the real point of this, which is to create your own meal . . . something like this is entirely appropriate.


Mix the sauce and elbow macaroni into an individual soup bowl. You can eat this now, rationalizing it as a kind of Italian-flavored goulash. But, you are not after goulash, but instead after something more closely akin to lasagna (or, at least that’s what you’ve told yourself).


So we must forge onward, remembering that the chief thing that separates lasagna from regular old spaghetti is the shape of the noodle and also the presence of embedded cheese.


Mix into the bowl of sauce and pasta a tablespoon or two of ricotta cheese. Stir it in thoroughly, until evenly blended. Then, lay over the top a nice thick carpet of shredded mozzarella cheese. It is unlike any traditional lasagna, but perhaps you are recognizing now the meaning of the phrase “good enough for government work.”


Still, the lasagna must be further cooked to diffuse the power of the cheese. If you have created your one-serving lasagna in a bowl that can withstand the oven, heat it to 375 degrees and cook for about 10 minutes, waiting until the cheese on top has fully melted.


If you have created your lasagna in a bowl that is merely microwave safe, pop it in for about a minute and a half on high. Place your finger over your mouth and say to yourself, “Ssssssh.” It is not good to resort to microwavery . . . but when you cook for one, all bets are off.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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