Your family will inhale this delicious beef lasagna stew – essentially a deconstructed lasagna without all the hard work! At our house my daughter calls it ‘Homemade Chef Boyardee’, while I call it an EASY Lasagna recipe!
I love homemade lasagna, especially when the weather starts turning cooler and I’m searching for something warm to eat. Lasagna is comforting and filling, layers of oozing cheese and meat and veggies – however it’s an ordeal that’s not always easy to accomplish! And with an 18-month old hanging off my legs in the kitchen, it seems an impossible task to begin!
Enter the Beef Lasagna Stew – or for little kids, call it Homemade Chef Boyardee, since that’s what it reminds me of, but WAY better tasting!! All the components of your favourite lasagna in an easy to eat bowl!
How did this genius idea come about? I blame the 18-month old toddler, who loves to eat, but only eats meat and pizza. Seriously. His love of hot dogs and hamburgers and pizza knows no bounds. Sure, he’ll be force fed the occasional yogurt, and I ALWAYS put veggies or fruits on his plate, but he rarely touches them. It can get frustrating.
So, I find ways to hide veggies and fruits in his food, starting with this genius cookbook. But almost all healthy foods take some prep time, and I don’t always have this sacred time to steam, puree, and freeze vegetables to hide in my son’s food.
Recently I discovered he enjoyed eating a lasagna bowl from Tim Horton’s, and immediately I knew I had to recreate it at home – how hard could it be? So I searched pinterest, and funny enough, the only thing I came across was a chicken lasagna stew. Even funnier, my son did not like it, he is NOT a chicken fan. Yeesh. So I changed up the recipe and substituted beef for chicken, along with a few other changes.
It became Homemade Chef Boyardee!
To keep it kid-friendy, I chopped all vegetables very finely. I can’t stress this enough. I love huge chunks of onion in my pasta sauce, but my 7 year old daughter will sit there and try to pick out all the onions, no joke. So chop ALL vegetables super fine. I chopped the mushrooms up very finely as well, and shredded the carrots.
I have also thought of making a meat-free version, upping the vegetable factor, so I’ll give that a try as well and see how it goes.
Regardless, this recipe is one-pot, meaning WAY less labour intensive than a traditional lasagna, but with all the flavours of a real lasagna.
Want to make it more Gourmet? Keep the vegetables roughly chopped, to give more vegetable flavour throughout, and use fresh herbs instead of dried. Be sure to triple the amount of FRESH herbs, since dried herbs contain a more concentrated flavour profile.
When plating, grab a piece of noodle and place right on top of the bowl, and throw it under the broiler. This gives you that crispy noodle edge that this otherwise perfect dish is missing (for me anyway). Don’t you love the crunchy corner bits of lasagna?
I do! So I threw it under the broiler with some cheese and there it was, the crunch I was missing.
Every time I make this dish my kids eat it up no problem (7 year old AND 18 month old!!) and my husband always goes back for seconds.
This dish is becoming a regular in my household, and it certainly gets easier each time I make it! Give it a try, you might just be blown away by how simple it is to make “lasagna” that everyone in your family will eat!
- 1 to 1½ lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 c. shredded carrots
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 c. beef broth (1 Knorr Beef Broth Paste + 3 Cups Water)
- 1 c. water
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 6 dry (uncooked) lasagna noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces
- About 1 c. ricotta cheese
- About ½ c. shredded mozzarella
- About 4 T. grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and beef, season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned and almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Add the mushrooms, carrots, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the beef broth, water, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Uncover and increase heat to medium-high to return the mixture to a boil. Stir in the noodle pieces. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.
- To serve, spoon into pasta or soup bowls. Top each serving with ricotta cheese, and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.