Garfield would be proud.

The holidays are right around the corner, and one of the first things that often goes out the door is family dinner. But eating together is still one of the best ways to keep the family connected.

Below is one of my (and Garfield the cat's) favorite meal-time solutions. It tosses together all the flavors of lasagna without the need for layering and baking. It's warming, nutritious and best of all, delicious. Serve it with a tossed green salad and garlic bread.

SKILLET LASAGNA
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 pound short pasta such as cavatappi salt 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 cup dry red wine or chicken broth 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes ground pepper to taste 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 5 ounces baby spinach, stems removed
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still firm to bite.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion. Saut until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saut until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add wine. Bring to a boil. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning and pepper flakes. Simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta. Add to cheese mixture with spinach. Toss to coat pasta and until spinach is wilted. Add some of tomato sauce. Toss gently, but still leaving streaks of cheese visible. Top with remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan.

PER SERVING: 388 calories; 19 g. protein; 56 g. carbohydrates; 5 g. fiber; 9 g. fat (4 g. saturated); 23 mg. cholesterol; 487 mg. sodium.