Lazy Lasagna

Sarah Copeland’s quick ragù tastes like the classic baked pasta without all the work.

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By Margaux Laskey

Hi, old friends! Margaux here, filling in for Em today.

Once I file this newsletter, I’m taking off for an almost two-week break. (But with kids at home and 892 presents to wrap before tomorrow morning, I use the term “break” very loosely.)

I’m not traveling, but my goal is to watch too many holiday movies, eat my weight in Italian rainbow cookies, find the best Christmas light display in North Jersey and cook as little as possible. Of course, I still plan to fulfill my Christmas cooking duties (no-yeast cinnamon rolls and sausage rolls made with store-bought puff pastry for breakfast; garlicky beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and buttered green beans for dinner), but after that, I’m phoning it in inasmuch as possible. There will be plenty of takeout, but I’ll fill the gaps with simple, cozy dishes like those below. I hope you like them.

If you celebrate the holiday, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. And if you don’t, I wish you much to be merry about in 2022. (You can find me on Instagram, if you do that sort of thing.)

1. Quick Ragù With Ricotta and Lemon

When I was growing up, lasagna was a Christmas Eve tradition, but my 7-year-old currently has a texture thing about lasagna — she won’t touch it. I’m compromising by making this smart 45-minute ragù from Sarah Copeland. In it, she calls for broken lasagna noodles for the pasta, which she tops with a dollop of ricotta. It has all of the flavors of the classic layered pasta without any of the mush.

View this recipe.

2. Sheet-Pan Roasted Chicken With Pears and Arugula

Truth be told, I’ve never met a sheet-pan recipe I didn’t like, and this one from Yasmin Fahr is one of my favorites. She combines bone-in chicken thighs with pear wedges and toasty spices like cumin, coriander and fresh ginger. Then, she finishes the dish with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds for crunch. I might toss some halved Yukon Gold potatoes onto the pan to make a more complete meal and maybe add a handful of blue cheese crumbles to my plate.

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3. Slow Cooker Cauliflower and White Bean Soup

For this creamy and lush vegetarian soup, Sarah DiGregorio tosses cauliflower, potatoes, white beans, stock and some herbs into a slow cooker, lets them cook for several hours, then purées the mixture until silky smooth. And for the pièce de résistance: Crushed potato chips (preferably sour cream and onion flavor) and shredded Cheddar top the soup. What a delight.

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4. Green Chile Chicken Tacos

Make a vat of Kay Chun’s mouthwatering green chile chicken (which cleverly uses canned green chiles), then let your loved ones use it as they like: tucked into tacos; piled on top of rice, baked potatoes or tortilla chips; or even stirred into cooked pasta. One reader suggests using precooked rotisserie chicken, and we support any and all shortcuts this time of year.

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5. Quick Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese

My day-after-Christmas plan: Make Eric Kim’s 30-minute version of the classic cold-weather combination, then eat it while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my dog curled by my side. She gets the crusts.

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Thanks for reading and cooking with me. If you like the work we do at New York Times Cooking, please subscribe! (Or give a subscription as a gift!) You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, or follow me on Instagram. Emily is at [email protected], and previous newsletters are archived here. Reach out to my colleagues at [email protected] if you have any questions about your account.

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