Recipe: Sausage Lasagna Skillet

This Sausage Lasagna Skillet is quick and easy to make.. and very adaptable to your personal tastes.
I don't know about you.. but my weeknights are busy... I'm always tight for time.. so cooking a good meal can be tough....  we make an effort not to eat out just for the sake of grabbing a meal.... oh, believe me we do... but staying healthy and watching a budget are important... so our attitude is... why spend money on a meal out that is only eh? .... or something we can make better at home. 
Skillet meals help fill in those gaps... quick to make.. and delicious... this dish is no exception.
I used "hot" Italian bulk sausage.... the sausage from my local supermarket is not all that hot.... if you prefer something not quite as hot as the sausage available in your area.. simply use "sweet" or mild Italian sausage... or use half hot and half sweet.
My directions tell you to cook the sausage then drain it on paper towels.. wipe out the pan and add olive oil to sauté the onion and garlic... my sausage rendered very, very little grease... if yours is like that.. you can leave it in the pan and skip the olive oil... as your sausage looks like it's almost cooked, add the onions and garlic on top of the sausage... then periodically stir it so the onions will cook and become soft.
I chop the onion and garlic together in my mini processor... it's easy and gets them finely chopped and mixed together.
I like Hunts diced tomatoes... I like the way they're diced into small pieces... but feel free to use any other brand you prefer.  Likewise, I like to use Hunts Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano for this recipe... if you prefer another variety ... use it instead.
Do not drain the tomatoes.
I have tomato paste always in my cupboard or in the fridge... I use it to thicken skillet meals or soups or stews...  tomato paste also comes in varieties that add basil and oregano... feel free to use that ... it will simply add a little more robust flavors to your skillet.
This brings me to probably the best tip of all... make sure you keep a supply of canned tomatoes, and tomato paste in the cupboard... buy them when you see them on sale... they can be used in so many dishes... you will always have "something on hand" to make a delicious meal with.
The ingredients listed say 1 cup of dried pasta... I used a bit more because we like pasta... I don't measure... I add it by the handful... I used about 2 handfuls... which is about a cup and a half.
I used malfada pasta... cute little lasagna noodles.  They're hard to find... you can use any pasta shape you like... Rotini would work well too.
I made a small ricotta cheese mixture to drop on top .... after it heats we like it mixed slightly through the meat mixture... it truly makes it taste like a lasagna.... however... it looks a little... sloppy.. trust me... it's well worth it... totally delicious!
This recipe will serve 4- 6, depending on what else you serve with it.  (Leftovers re-read wonderfully too).
I serve this with a side salad and garlic bread.

Recipe:  Sausage Skillet Lasagna
All you need:
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (hot or sweet or a mixture of both)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped *See TIPS
1 garlic clove, finely chopped *See TIPS
2 cans Hunts Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano
1 cup water
1 cup dried pasta *See TIPS
1/2 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 (15 oz) container part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sprinkling of garlic powder
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1 tablespoon tomato paste
All you have to do:
In a heavy skillet, cook the Italian sausage over medium high heat, breaking it into smaller pieces with a spatula as it cooks.
When the sausage is fully cooked, remove it to a paper towel lined plate.  Wipe out the skillet with paper towels, and add the olive oil to it.  Heat the skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft, taking care not to let them burn... turn down the heat if necessary.
When onions are soft, add the sausage back into the skillet and stir to mix well.  Add the canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, water, dried pasta.  Make sure the pasta is in the liquid, pressing down with the spatula. 
Add a little more water if necessary.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer covered for about 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked.  Stir ocassionally.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Set aside.
When the pasta is cooked, add the tomato paste to the skillet and stir well, simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened.
Drop the ricotta mixture by small spoonfuls over the skillet mixture.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over the top.  Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Optional:  Using a spoon, slightly mix the cheese mixture through the meat mixture.
Serve immediately. 

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