School is back in session and parents are back to the assembly line of lunch-making. If you’re used to doing the same thing week in and out, but you’re looking to change things up, we have a winner of a recipe that is a perfect fit for any lunch bag or box. Recently, Chef Vance prepared a variation of mini lasagnas from the Washington Post in the Jenn-Air 24-in steam and convection oven. This recipe was filed under “college cooking,” but it’s a perfect lunch option too. If you think about it, there is not that much of a difference between college meal prep and school-aged lunches (since the parents are doing it). When you’re in college, you make something that is easy, healthy(ish) and doesn’t require a full kitchen (since most students have at-most the communal kitchen area in a dorm). During the early school years, parents want something that’s quick, healthy and doesn’t require a lot of prep since there’s not a lot of time. And when it comes to feeding a family, you also don’t want to sacrifice nutrition for convenience.
Vance prepared mini lasagna cups, substituting lasagna noodles for the wanton wrappers called for in the recipe. Since we all know kids notice any small variation in a classic food that they might love, don’t mess with their lasagna! Speaking of kids loving lasagna, on the day that Vance prepared these, there just so happened to be a family in finalizing a kitchen appliance purchase. The lasagna cups were a big hit and earned an enthusiastic two thumbs up!
Another reason that this a great recipe for lunches is that you can freeze the mini lasagnas for a few weeks. Try out the recipe below and keep reading further for other ideas from our Community Kitchen group on Facebook.
- • 1 Cup frozen chopped spinach, Defrosted/Drained
- • 1 Cup Ricotta cheese
- • 1 tsp. seasoning blend
- • ½ tsp. kosher salt
- • 2 Cups low fat shredded Mozzarella cheese
- • 3/4 of a regular box of lasagna noodles , cut to the size of the muffin tins
- • 1 Cup frozen diced carrots, Defrosted
- • Freshly ground black pepper
- • 1 ½ cup Marinara Sauce
- 1. Squeeze all liquid from the defrosted spinach
- 2. Mix spinach, ricotta cheese, seasoning blend and salt in a mixing bowl
- 3. Take half the mixture and put it into a separate bowl add 1 cup of cheese and mix.
- 4. Using cooking oil spray to lightly grease the muffin pan. Fit a lasagna noodle into each well with the corners up and over the edges of the well.
- 5. Evenly divide the ricotta-spinach blend in each well, then fit in another noodle on top. Then divide the diced carrots among the cups, and the top with a generous teaspoon of the marinara sauce. Fit a third noodle over the sauce.
- 6. Evenly divide the ricotta-spinach-mozzarella blend mixture on the last layer of noodles, then finish by evenly dividing the remaining marinara sauce, about a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella, and some freshly ground black pepper.
- 7. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight (OPTIONAL)
- 8. Bake on the middle rack for 12-15 min, or until the cheese on top is melted, browned, and bubbling.
- 9. Serve hot or cool completely before storing
- Easy trick: use some round cookie molds to speed up time and create consistent sizes.
Ideas from our Community Kitchen:
Cristina F: When time permits, I make my Nonna’s meatballs. They are great for a quick healthy meal before running to practices or games and also make delicious sandwiches during the week. My kids love them and having them on hand during the week makes my life much easier.
Nicole S: I like to make simple fried rice with whatever veggies I have around and throw an egg in there and they can take that in a thermos to school