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BackstoryThis is a great recipe for using all the leftover meats, veggies and pasta sitting in your frig. I use it when I've had a big family meal and can't seem to eat all the leftovers.
You can add into the mixture some of your favorite veggies or meats. Any meats you add should be cooked first! Try adding diced blanched eggplant, broccoli florets, diced carrot, diced potatoes (purple ones are fun!), or substitute your favorite cooked greens instead of the spinach. Baby peas, cooked pearl onions, a can of black beans, a can of yellow or white corn - most any vegetable will add flavor and texture to this great lasagna.
Some great meats that Iâ€™ve tried in this recipe are:
Slivers of prosciutto or Serrano ham - try mixing in with the base ingredients or with the final cup of shredded mozzarella that you spread on in the final step of cooking.
Try adding 1 Â½ cups of chopped corned beef or pastrami for a flavor twist.
1 Â½ cups cooked Italian sausage, seasoned ground beef, ground lamb, ground pork, ground turkey or ground ostrich each add its own flavor elements to this dish.
As you add your own ingredients to this recipe to customize it, be sure to adjust the canned tomatoes (wet mixture) and the dip to keep the flavors and moistness consistent! Also, try waiting until you have individual servings plated and offer the salt and pepper to your guests. Each person has their own comfort level with salt and pepper. Salt is quite a volatile issue with many dieticians and physicians. Using a rough ground salt with basic origins (and not necessarily with the added iodine) can be found in chemical makeup to more closely match a humanâ€™s metabolic salts and, therefore, less of a health concern but with the same palate-pleasing, food enhancement advantages.
- Spinach, frozen (1 box thawed, drained and patted dry)
- Onion & Chives Dip (Small container)
- 1/2 bar cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup olive oil or nut oil
- 1 cup nuts, chopped (OPTIONAL)
- 2 cans, Italian diced tomatoes
- 1 lb. rigatoni, cooked
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Spread 1/2 cup of the olive or nut oil over the bottom and sides of a 9x12x2 (or 3) baking dish.
- Rub the oil over the entire inner surfaces of the dish.
- Spread out diced onion in the dish and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
- Leave oven on for preheating.
- Remove dish from oven.
- Remove onions from dish to a bowl and set aside.
- In bowl with baked onions, mix in cooked rigatoni, softened dip, softened cream cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, both cans of the tomatoes, and the spinach.
- Mix gingerly (trying to preserve the individual ingredients) but well.
- Spread your mix into the pre-baked dish.
- Spread it in an even layer over the bottom of the dish.
- Sprinkle (optional) nuts over the top of the mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 350.
- Then spread the remaining (1 cup) mozzarella over the top and return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling hot.
- Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.