What Kids Learn
- Many people use a knife to chop garlic. But you can use a garlic press if you want crushed garlic.
- Garlic bread, as we know it here, is based on an Italian dish called bruschetta, which consists of grilled bread topped with garlic, olive oil, and salt.
- Yes, there really is such a thing as no-boil noodles—and they cut your prep time by a lot.
Lasagna is a great do-ahead dish—and one that nearly everyone in my family will eat, in any iteration. Because seriously, what’s not to like?
But a version I created shortly after one of my kids announced she was going vegetarian was not a raging success, according to my children. It was a fusion version, combining Italian and Mexican food—two of my family’s favorites. Lasagna noodles were layered with black beans, corn, salsa instead of tomato sauce, and a Mexican blend cheese. Had I not failed to notice the “hot” label on the salsa jar, I might have spared my family a meal so searingly spicy that everyone drank an extra glass of water.
After a hiatus to give everyone’s taste buds a rest, I discovered store-bought no-boil lasagna noodles, and now lasagna’s back in my regular rotation. The crowd-pleasing casserole that emerges from the oven will take no more than 20 minutes for you and your kids to put together. This is a dish basically everyone loves, so make two pansful and pop one into the freezer for another busy night.
What You’ll Need
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 (45-ounce) jar marinara sauce (your favorite brand; you won’t need the whole jar)
- 1 package (8- or 9-ounce) no-boil lasagna noodles
What to Do
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. If your assistant chef has good knife skills, show him how to peel and press the garlic. Otherwise, peel and chop it yourself. Alternatively, cut the garlic cloves in half and show your child how to press the halved cloves through a garlic press.
- Let your kitchen magician measure the olive oil into a medium skillet. She can then transfer the chopped garlic and the ground turkey to the skillet. You then place the skillet on the stove, turn the heat to medium, and cook the turkey until it is nicely browned, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks. Drain off and discard any accumulated liquid. Remove the skillet from the heat to a heatproof surface. Set it aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
- Have your helper measure the oregano, salt, and pepper, and add these to the skillet. He can then stir the mixture very well. Invite him to crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat them very well with a fork or whisk. Help him spoon the ricotta cheese into the bowl, and measure and add 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, as well. Next, he can stir all these together with a large spoon.
- Help your child evenly spoon 1 cup of the marinara sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. She can then evenly arrange 4 of the no-cook noodles on top of the sauce. It’s fine if they overlap a little. The two of you can spread half the ricotta mixture, along with half of the turkey mixture, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup of marinara sauce, on top.
- Work together to add the next layers: 4 noodles, the rest of the ricotta mixture, the rest of the turkey mixture, and 1 cup of marinara sauce. For the top layer, layer 4 no-cook noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella. You may want to add a little extra sauce on top! Your little chef can help you to cover the pan with foil.Teachable Moment: How No-Boil Noodles Work
- A lot goes into making fresh (and delicious) lasagna noodles—and one of the most important ingredients is moisture.
- Fresh pasta contains lots of moisture, so it doesn’t need to be cooked for very long. But the dry pasta you find on the supermarket shelves often sits there for months, so most of the water must be taken out.
- Heat plays a big role in bringing dry but tasty pasta to your table. By heating the noodles in boiling water, you open the cells in the dry dough to absorb the water.
- So that brings us to no-boil noodles: these are noodles that get “flash cooked” at a high temperature at the manufacturing plant before they’re dried out and packaged—so all you need to do is add liquid in the form of lots of tasty sauce and cheese!
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 55 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the lasagna is piping hot. This is delicious with a big green salad or your favorite vegetable, and maybe some warm garlic bread!Teachable Moment: All About Garlic Bread
- Garlic bread as we know it in the U.S. is thought to have evolved from an Italian dish called “bruschetta.”
- Bruschetta is a dish that involves spreading thick slices of bread with olive oil and minced garlic, then roasting the bread. Toppings are up to the eater!
- Now, just about anything can be used to make garlic bread right in your own kitchen. Try butter instead of olive oil, or sprinkle any combination of cheeses on top. But never skip the garlic!
- Whether you get crispy garlic bread or soft, chewy bread comes down to how you slice it. The more surface area you leave exposed in the oven, the crunchier the bread.