Spotlight on Thanksgiving Sides: Veal and Meatball Lasagna at Prego

Looking for non-traditional (at least for your family) side options this Thanksgiving? This series highlights the unconventional, interesting twists on sides available for sale at Houston restaurants. Pick up some to add some variation to Turkey Day.

If you're accustomed as I am to Italian-American Thanksgivings, you may not blink when a steaming tray of lasagna appears on the table next to the turkey. I recognize, however, that to many the addition of this red-sauce classic may initially seem a bit odd.

Cheese, tomatoes and cow meat are not regular features of Thanksgiving cuisine, and I'm willing to bet the pilgrims did not at any point learn to make mozzarella from the native Americans.

But lasagna is a terrific alterna-side for many reasons. First, its Mediterranean flavors provide a nice contrast to the heartier, root vegetable-based dishes common to Thanksgiving.

Second, it reheats well. Timing all the different components of a Thanksgiving dinner is more complicated than organizing a NASA space launch, and it's helpful to have at least one dish that won't suffer if it has to sit in the fridge or on the counter while the other sides are cooking.

Third, lasagna is an easy dish to pawn off as your own cooking. Sorry, kid, no one is going to believe you just whipped up that lobster pot pie with aged sherry and cold-pressed truffle oil. Lasagna is sufficiently complicated to impress people but not so astronomically difficult as to blow your cover.

Which brings me to my point. Many people can produce a decent lasagna with moderate effort. Prego, however, makes a mind-blowing veal and meatball lasagna that requires no effort on your part. Okay, you do have to part with some of your hard-earned cash. A 10" x 13" pan is $80, but here's what you get for your shekels:

  • Layer upon layer of fluffy noodles dressed in a basil-tomato sauce interspersed with handmade veal and beef meatballs. Plus, just a dash of fresh pesto.
  • A side dish that can feed 18 adult-size people. Or 25 children. Or 40 one-year-olds.
  • A kitchen unsullied by the numerous pots, pans, meat grinders, trays and cutting boards necessary to make homemade lasagna.
  • Three hours of your life you can spend playing Candy Crush.
  • The opportunity to stick it to your mother-in-law by proving you are capable of generating good food (that is to say, arranging for its appearance on the table and availability for consumption, not necessarily making it yourself).

I'd pay $80 for freedom, a delicious meal and leftovers. What about you?

Orders for Prego's Veal and Meatball lasagna should be placed by Monday, November 19, and the goodness will be available for pick-up (with accompanying reheating instructions) on November 21. Orders can be placed by phone or online at www.prego-houston.com.

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