Welcome to Slow Saturday! While I’d kill to run a couple errands today, I’m grateful that there are no practices or games or birthday parties to run off to. I reflect all the time on simplicity and what it looks like to slow down. When we are in “normal” mode (what will THAT even look like in a few months???), it requires an incredibly concerted effort, and quite frankly, pushing against norms to live simply. But, now, we are forced to. It’s our “new normal” and one thing I will be intentional about holding onto when we can go back out into the world.
One thing I’ve noticed about slowing down is that dinner time doesn’t seem like such a crunch. In fact, most meals don’t. I actually cooked lunch of all things the other day. Lunch. Can you imagine a world in which we have enough time to prepare a hot lunch on a Tuesday? Well, maybe it’s not the most practical, or even desirable…I know I for one am over the massive amount of dishes, it is nice to set aside the idea of “throwing things together” and rushing. Or, having to plan ahead at every turn.
I have always been into cooking, but, as you may recall from earlier recipes I’ve posted, I am NOT a use a recipe person! But, in this season of the stores not having their usual abundance, this is perfect…and the perfect time for you to throw the recipes to the wind. It is freeing, trust me! I still feel your skepticism lurking as you read this and I anticipate your eye rolls. Try this one with me though.
I bring you an un-recipe for lasagna. I mean who can mess up pasta and sauce, right? In the spirit of this un-recipe, I will not be entering this one into my cool little recipe plug-in that will make it look all professional like you are used to seeing things here or on your favorite cooking blog.
Un-recipe lasagna could start with lasagna noodles. If you don’t have them, pivot, and create a layered pasta dish. It’s pasta folks. Trust me, it will be good. But, wait, you say. No pasta. I say, no problem. Skip it. You will also need vegetables. I had two eggplant and one zucchini, which I sliced thinly and then marinated in olive oil, italian seasoning and balsamic vinegar. After a quick marinade, I roasted them. If you are low on seasoning, salt and pepper will do! Or, give lemon and olive oil a go. Any veggies on hand will do, but I strongly recommend marinating for extra delicious layers of flavor.
Now, let’s talk sauce. I happened to have a jar of marinara on hand, but diced or stewed tomatoes will work fine. Just season them up and give them a blend with your blender and voila, sauce. No sauce like ingredients? Again, no problem. Since you roasted and seasoned your veggies, it will be super tasty any way! You are well on your way to improvisational cooking now!!!
If you have ricotta on hand, season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. If not, shredded mozzarella or Parmesan will do the trick. No cheese? Voila, dairy free lasagna!
On to the process…first, layer your pasta in the bottom (prepped according to box). Then, sauce, then veggies, then cheese. Repeat until everything is gone. Top with any remaining sauce and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees until things have a chance to melt and mingle.
I bring you, friends, lasagna or a pasta casserole, or maybe even a veggie melange. You’re welcome, and I’m really proud of you for trying!!
You’ll get the hang of it, promise. And, some day soon, you can go back to following your recipes to a T. Or maybe you’ll embrace the freedom of un-recipe cooking. Either way, enjoy this slower time when getting dinner on the table (or packing it up so kids can eat en route to an activity) doesn’t have to be an Olympic event. Be Snow Happy, friends, and find the joy of cooking.