I recently came across food writer Julia Turshen’s simple lasagna — what she calls “a nice lasagna”, and was instantly drawn to its simplicity—there’s no meat, no layers of roasted veg or ricotta, just a rosé tomato sauce and fresh basil, and plenty of cheese. Best of all, it utilizes fresh pasta sheets, which you can mix up and roll with a rolling pin—no pasta machine required! (Though they are a lot of fun.) And then you just go ahead and layer the rolled-out pasta dough directly in the pan with the sauce and cheese, no need to boil it first, which is ridiculously satisfying. You could, of course, add all manner of meat and veg sauce, or ricotta, or anything else you like, but I love that this is not at all over the top- a big spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream turns the sauce into a rosé that takes care of my craving for tomato and cheese that ricotta usually satisfies.
Julia’s pasta formula is 2 1/4 cups flour with 3 eggs and water as needed, blitzed in the food processor until the dough comes together, but I got into the habit of using a ratio of 1 cup flour to 2 eggs and just stirring it together by hand, which is also ridiculously satisfying, and fun to do with other people (especially kids) around. So I did that, and used a can of crushed tomatoes along with the whole ones just to thicken things up a bit. Despite the fact that this is made with fresh pasta (which seems so fancy! and yes, you can totally pick some up at the Italian market), this is a more streamlined version I can totally make on a regular weekday. (But also at times I want to get just a little fancy.)