The cupcake craze is sweeping the nation: sweet miniature cakes with oh-so-cute decorations and chic packaging have all but replaced the outmoded petit fours in bakery display cases. Cupcake shops and cafes are popping up everywhere – and some are even blossoming into their own short-lived reality shows. OK, so this is relatively old news, I know. And yes, I hear macarons are the new cupcakes. And yes, I tend to be about 18 months behind most trends, fads and anything else of an even remotely hip nature.
But with this cupcake craze has come another culinary fad: savory cupcakes. Flipping through my latest Food and Wine magazine, I came across an article on savory cupcakes: Curry cupcakes. Lox cupcakes. Chicken and waffles cupcakes. I s*@t you not. Among the array of strange and, honestly, some rather unappetizing choices (meatloaf cupcake?), I stumbled across a picture of lasagna cupcakes, or as the author put it more sophisticatedly, “individual lasagnas”. A complete slideshow of the unusual bunch can be found at foodandwine.com.
So, Lasagna cupcakes? I mean, seriously, what could be better? Instead of dealing with a whopping pan full of the stuff, you can have your own individual lasagna, served in a perfectly sized portion, all wrapped up like a little lasagna present. Or like a satchel. A mini lasagna satchel. Or a pouch. A poochy lasagna pouch. Eww, now we’re just getting weird.
For my lasagnas, I began with my Texas-sized muffin tins (which are oh-so wonderful and have been featured in several other Flyer Foodie columns). I lightly greased each of the tins with a little olive oil, and lined them with cooked lasagna noodles. For my fillings, I chose a relatively simple route: a little jarred tomato sauce, a little leftover pesto from last summer, a couple of cheeses and some delicious Portobello caps I had on hand.
If you want to go all overachiever on these little bad boys, you could certainly cook up some sausages or ground beef, make your own pesto, or make your tomato sauce from scratch. I know of an especially delicious tomato sauce recipe.
Of course, these little dudes take a little time and a little patience – I made myself a makeshift assembly line (which quickly became a filthy, chaotic mess), but it ultimately eased the process. Don’t fret, here: just pour a glass of malbec, turn on some Otis Redding and take your time. There is no right or wrong way. Have fun. Get creative. Get funky. Get live.
These cupcakes come out of the oven bubbling and sizzling, with oozy browned cheese, gooey filling, and crispy pasta tips (I LOVE that part!). I like to serve them with the leftover tomato sauce and a little crushed red pepper. They can also sit covered in the fridge for up to five days – I ate one for lunch every day last week! As always, feel free to make the recipe your own, adding or subtracting ingredients to suit your own taste buds. Enjoy!
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1/2 lb. lasagna noodles, boiled and cooled
4 large Portobello caps, gilled and roughly chopped
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 lb. mozzarella, shredded
1 jar of favorite tomato sauce
1/2 c. favorite pesto
olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and parsley
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large pot of salted water, boil the lasagna noodles until they’re al dente, drain them and allow them to cool.
Meanwhile, scrape out the gills of the Portobello caps and roughly chop them. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the Portobello caps and season with salt and pepper. Allow the Portobellos to soften and begin to brown, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove the ricotta from its container and season liberally with salt, pepper, a little crushed red pepper and parsley.
Lightly grease a muffin tin with a small amount of olive oil. Begin layering the pasta inside the tins, with the ricotta, mozzarella, Portobellos, tomato sauce and pesto, cutting the pasta to fit. The ingredients can go in any order you choose – there isn’t a right or wrong way, just be sure you begin and end with the pasta, and reserve some of the tomato sauce for later. Top all the lasagnas with leftover mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350° for about 30-35 minutes, or until they’re bubbly and the tops are beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, gently go around the edge of each muffin tin to release the lasagna. Serve with the remaining tomato sauce, a sprinkle of red pepper and parsley.
* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.