Let’s reminisce for a minute.
I loved sloppy joe during elementary school. I’d often come home with that bright red-orange sauce all over my mouth (maybe a couple spots on my shirt). My mom would just look at me, smile, and wash me up. I’d ask her why she didn’t ask me about my lunch today. (Food was, and still is, a daily topic of discussion with my parents– why are you skipping breakfast, what did you eat for lunch, where do you want to get dinner?)
She’d smile again and say she already knew what I ate, a sloppy joe sandwich. My eyes would widen with surprise and disbelief. Those days, I used to think my mom was a spy or a mind reader of some sort. It wasn’t until a couple years later that I became aware of my messy eating habits and thus learned the importance of kitchen napkins and checking out the mirror after lunch.
Those days are long gone. I still crave a sloppy joe once in a while. And when that happens, I make sloppy joe lasagna. It still is just as sloppy, but now the mess is contained in a nice plate and eaten properly with a fork.
Sloppy Joe Lasagna
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 cups canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
9 oz-package of oven ready lasagna pasta sheets (I used Barilla Oven-Ready Lasagne)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan and allow to heat up. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chopped onions and cook for a few minutes until onions begin to soften.
2. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Break ground beef into smaller chunks as it cooks. Add chopped bell peppers. Add chili powder, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine into meat.
3. Once meat has browned, add vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste. Mix into cooking ingredients. Follow with tomato sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
5. Add about 1/2 cup of sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish. Spread evenly. Top with 3 sheets of oven-ready lasagna sheets. The sheets will expand as they cook. Leave a little room between each sheet and the walls of the baking dish.
6. Add 1 1/3 cup of meat sauce on top on lasagna sheet. Spread evenly. Top with — cup shredded cheese.
7. Continue with remaining layers. End with cheese.
8. Cover with foil and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and discard foil. Bake for another 5-8 minutes until cheese on top layer is melted and bubbling. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Maryanne’s Chic Tip: I love these new no-boil/oven ready lasagna pasta sheets. They make lasagna building so much easier. Quick note, be sure to cover the pasta with sauce to ensure the pasta softens and cooks in the oven. Also, make sure you cover the dish well with foil before placing it in the oven. The foil traps the moisture in the dish, allowing the pasta to cook.
Sloppy Joe was one of my favorite childhood cafeteria food. What was yours?!