Lazy lasagna & more sneaky comfort food shortcuts

By: Penelope Wall  |  Friday, March 12, 2010

I hail from a family of overachievers when it comes to lasagna. My sister makes her own fresh pasta and homemade sauce before assembling the actual casserole. It literally takes her all day—and the results are truly amazing—but for the rest of us normal people, that kind of dedication to a single meal is simply not realistic. Even without the special sauce and fresh noodles, lasagna can be pretty time-consuming, especially when all you have time for is a quick weeknight dinner after work.
But if you could have lasagna in a snap any night of the week, wouldn’t you? That’s why this recipe for Inside-Out Lasagna is so genius: it’s got all the lasagna elements—ricotta cheese, pasta and tomatoes—and skips the layering and long baking time to make a super-quick and satisfying meal in no time. Forget 2 hours: this meal is ready in 25 minutes!
Save the special stuff for weekends. Here are 4 more recipes with sneaky shortcuts to get some favorite comfort foods on the table fast.
Quick Roast Chicken & Root Vegetables
Roasted chicken in 45 minutes? No problem. This technique of starting bone-in chicken breasts on the stovetop and finishing them in a hot oven with vegetables gets a hearty dinner on the table in a hurry. While everything roasts, you still have time to make a quick pan sauce with shallot and Dijon mustard. Serve with a spinach salad.
Multi-Bean Chili
This meatless chili recipe uses the convenience of canned beans for a flavor that tastes like it’s been simmering all day. If you like, add a dollop of low-fat sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt to each serving. Or try it with minced scallions and a little shredded Cheddar. In any case, have bottled hot red pepper sauce on hand to pass alongside.
Quick French Onion Soup
French onion soup is a favorite but it usually isn’t substantial enough to make a complete meal. This recipe solves that problem by adding fiber-rich chickpeas to a broth flavored with sherry and three kinds of onions. Of course, don’t forget the gooey topping, just make it a little lighter and a lot easier to prepare at home—simply top toasted whole-wheat bread with cheese and pour the soup on to melt it.
Quick Shrimp Enchilada Bake
Shrimp enchiladas offer a taste of coastal Mexican cuisine but some versions contain so much cheese, butter and sour cream that they can pack a whopping 50 grams of fat per serving. This version has vibrant flavor and only half the calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, plus it uses precooked peeled shrimp so you can get the dish on your table fast enough for a weeknight.