It’s Easter weekend, and although it might not really feel like spring in Canada the spring activities are kicking into high gear all over the country. Softball, soccer, and other sports are all starting up again after a long winter, and between work, commuting, and all of the household fun that goes into weeknight life you’ll have less time than ever to put together dinner.

That’s why you need easy dinner recipes, and it makes it even easier if those dinner recipes come packaged with an appetizer, main course, and dessert. After all, just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat like you have all the time in the world.

When it comes to easy dinner recipes, look no further than pasta. I’ve been talking about pasta for the past month on Shelly’s Friday Favourites and came up with some delicious recipes for pasta salad and week night pasta. Now I’d like to share my favourite go-to weeknight dish – cheesy lasagna! This recipe comes complete with side of Garlic Bread and delicious dessert. To get this main course on the table even faster, I make the lasagna the night before and slide it into the oven as soon as I get home.

Garlic Bread

Most people would skip the main course in favour of the bread, and with this garlic bread recipe you’ll definitely want to grab a few extra pieces.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread, cut into 1/2

inch slices

1 (8 ounce) package shredded

mozzarella cheese

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and mix with garlic powder and dried parsley.

Place Italian bread on a medium-baking sheet. Using a basting brush, brush generously with the butter mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven approximately 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and any remaining butter mixture. Return to oven approximately 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bread is lightly browned.

Artichoke Spinach Lasagna

Not your every day lasagna, this delicious dish combines artichoke, spinach, and feta to create what I think is probably the best pasta dish I’ve ever tried.

Ingredients:

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke

hearts, drained and chopped

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped

Spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1 (28 ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese,

divided

1 (4 ounce) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and rosemary; bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.

Spread 1/4 of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over noodles. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with artichoke mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.

Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Double Chocolate Almond Torte

Life’s too short to skip dessert, and this Almond Torte is worth saving room for. The Italians call it ‘Torta Di Mandorle.’ It comes in many different varieties and is the perfect dessert for pasta night. This one isn’t exactly quick but it’s worthwhile to include as a dessert, and if you make your lasagna the night before you can pop this into the oven while you’re eating.

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

Powder for dusting, or as needed

2 (8 ounce) packages semi-sweet

Chocolate squares, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup butter

5 large eggs, separated

1-tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup crushed almonds

1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar for

Dusting, or as needed

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

Powder for dusting, or as needed

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Grease a 9-inch spring form pan and dust with 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder.

Melt chopped chocolate squares and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, 5 to 10 minutes.

Whisk egg yolks and vanilla extract together in a large bowl.

Gradually whisk chocolate and butter mixture into egg yolk mixture until well blended.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat sugar into egg whites until sugar dissolves and egg whites hold stiff peaks.

Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture until just blended and batter is smooth and fluffy.

Spread batter evenly into prepared spring form pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until sides begin to pull away from pan and top is set in center, about 25 minutes.

Let torte cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the sides of pan. Place chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave on full heat. Stir the chips. Continue to heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each time, until the chocolate chips have melted and are warm and smooth. Do not overheat.

Drizzle melted chocolate chips onto torte. Sprinkle crushed almonds and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, or as needed, onto the torte before serving.


When it comes to easy dinner recipes for busy weeknights, pasta will always be one of your best friends. You can get busy preparing this cheesy lasagna, garlic bread, and dessert with the following kitchen tools:


Want to make your own garlic bread at home? Check out the Breville Bread Maker.

Store your lasagna noodles for easy access with the OXO PopUp Food Container

The perfect Almond Torte starts with the perfect pan – try the Norpro Glass 9″ Springform Pan