In the middle of making this dish – lasagna noodles sticking to the bottom of the pan, tomato sauce splattering every oven-adjacent surface – I thought to myself: “I’ve made a huge mistake.” But when the first bite passed my lips – tender noodles, rich sauce, melty cheese – it pretty much made the whole hour-long affair worthwhile. Worth repeating, actually. This is some forking good pasta, people.
In theory, the Skillet-Style Lasagna from Betty Goes Vegan is supposed to be a rather no-fuss, no-muss, one-dish meal. And while it’s true that it only requires one dish – a skillet, and the bigger, the better! – it’s a lot fussier than the directions let on. I suppose this could be due to my choice of pasta noodles: the recipe calls for mafalda noodles – a sort of mini-lasagna – which I was unable to find anywhere. (And believe you me, I looked!) I briefly considered using elbows or rigatoni, but that felt too much like cheating, so I opted for regular lasagna noodles broken into smaller pieces instead. Some of the mafalda I found online resembles lasagna sliced horizontally – long, thin, ribbon-like strips – while other versions look like shrunken lasagna noodles. At first I tried replicating the thin, frilly noodles, but by the end I was in such a rush that I snapped the lasagna into thirds, resulting in square-ish pieces.
So basically you fry the onions, garlic, and soy meat in a large skillet, and then throw in the pasta sauce, spices, and (uncooked) noodles, along with a little extra water for cooking. The noodles cook on the stovetop, along with the sauce, supposedly in ten to twelve minutes or so. Perhaps the lasagna is thicker than malfada, but I stood over that hot stovetop for at least a half hour before the lasagna was al dente. And it’s not the sort of job you can leave unsupervised, either; more than a few minutes without stirring, and the noodles clung to the bottom of the pan. Dislodging them proved no small task, either – the skillet was so full that more than the gentlest of nudging sent pasta sauce flying over the rim and onto the backsplash. (Exhibit A: My filthy mess of a skillet.)
When done, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese (Daiya) and bake at 350F for five minutes or until the cheese is melted. I kept in in an extra five, just to make sure all the noodles were baked through. When all was said and done, a half hour meal took me at least an hour to make.
THAT SAID. This is some ridiculously good pasta. Next time I’ll probably try it with a smaller, thinner pasta – something that cooks in less time and isn’t too terribly difficult to stir. That should speed things along. Also, the soy meat is optional, imho. It makes a nice, meaty sauce, but you could just as easily swap it out for veggies or whatnot. I like veggies, veggies are good.
On the side is a slightly different version of the Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano. Instead of canned tomatoes and fresh green beans, I used what I had on hand, namely fresh tomatoes and canned green beans. It’s not quite as phenomenal as the original, but it’s pretty damn close. Good enough for me, seeing as my fridge is stuffed with fresh grape and cherry tomatoes from the garden.
I could seriously eat this meal all day.