How to Make Lasagna

When I’m hosting a dinner — particularly a family dinner — or I have to bring something to a potluck, lasagna is one of my go-to recipes. Everyone loves lasagna, vegetarian versions are still satisfying to meat-eaters, and whenever you make it, you have to make a ton.

But I never make lasagna when it’s just the two of us, even though I love it too. Why not? Even if there are a lot of leftovers, lasagna freezes beautifully and reheats well for lunches, so it wouldn’t go to waste. I shouldn’t just wait for a special occasion to make it.

Lasagna seems complicated to make, because there are so many steps to prepare all the components, generally requiring a Sunday afternoon to assemble. But like the best classic recipes, at its heart, lasagna is very simple: sauce, noodles, filling and cheese. Because it is so simple, lasagna lends itself well to interpretation and improvisation. As long as you stay true to the basic components, lasagna can be whatever you want it to be.

Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

Here are the steps to making any lasagna. What you put in it is up to you. This recipe will serve 6-8.

The Noodles

I like a two-layer lasagna, which requires 9 lasagna noodles for the base, the middle and the top (3 noodles each). I have not had a lot of luck with the no-boil noodles. Instead, I par-boil the traditional noodles in heavily salted water, stirring occasionally, until they are a minute or two shy of being al dente. They will finish cooking in the sauce while baking.

I usually go ahead and cook 12 noodles even though I don’t need all of them, for two reasons: (1) some noodles may get torn or stick together, so it’s good to have extras; and (2) lasagna noodles come 24 to a box.

Note: The amounts given in the remainder of the recipe are for two layers. If you prefer three layers, adjust the amounts up accordingly.

The Sauce

Typically, lasagne can be made with either a tomato sauce or a bechamel (white) sauce (recipe follows at the end of this post). You will need about 3 cups of sauce for a two-layer lasagne.

The Cheese

The traditional cheeses for lasagna are mozzarella and Parmesan. I’ve also had good luck using fontina in place of the mozzarella. You’ll need about 1½ cups shredded cheese, plus extra Parmesan for the top.

You don’t have to stop at two cheeses either. Any soft or shredded cheese would make a welcome addition. I’ve enjoyed mixing in chevre and gorgonzola, for example.

The Filling

Almost anything goes when it comes to lasagna filling. Browned meat, meatballs and sausage are all traditional favorites. I prefer vegetable lasagna myself. In that case, the only rule is to choose vegetables that don’t have to cook in water, because the extra liquid will make the lasagna too runny. Altogether, you will need 4 cups filling.

Vegetables should be pre-cooked before assembling the lasagna. I generally choose a mixture of vegetables that can all be cooked together, saving on prep time. Some suggestions include:

  • Roasted asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant and/or portobellos
  • Sauteed artichoke hearts, garlic, mushrooms, onion, peppers, spinach, summer squash and/or zucchini

For the lasagna pictured above, I broke my own rule. I combined roasted portobellos with sauteed onion, garlic and very finely chopped button mushrooms. I used bechamel sauce and fontina cheese to produce a rich and meaty-tasting Mushroom Lasagna. It was fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Assembling the Lasagna

Once you have all of your components ready, assemble the lasagna in a 9 X 13 baking pan:

  1. Start with a thin layer of sauce
  2. Add a layer of 3 noodles
  3. Layer on about 2 cups filling
  4. Top with about 1 cup sauce
  5. Sprinkle over about ½ cup cheese
  6. Repeat the layers, starting with the noodles
  7. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese, plus some extra Parmesan
  8. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until bubbling
  9. Remove the foil, raise the heat to 500 degrees and bake until browned, about 6-8 minutes
  10. Garnish with minced basil or parsley

Notes: Unbaked lasagnas freeze very well.

Bechamel Sauce for Lasagna and Many Other Things

Yields: 3 cups

What you need:

  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • nutmeg and white pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter over low heat
  2. Whisk in the flour until well combined
  3. Whisk in the milk
  4. Raise the heat to medium and whisk until the sauce thickens
  5. Season to taste
About these ads

Tagged: , , , , , ,

25 thoughts on “How to Make Lasagna

  1. nkilkenny 11 March 2007 at 11:09 am

    Wow, that sounds super tasty. I’m going to have to try this will gluten-free noodles.

  2. jules 18 August 2007 at 8:04 am

    Masarape!i will definitely try this!

  3. James J. Fazio 18 November 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Absolutely the best and fastest information I have ever gotten.
    Plus the Ideas of using vegatables instead of cheese is an Eye openner. And I also like the additional Links you have to other Thanks Giving Ideas. Over all I must say I am very Pleased with the immediate response to my question. Thank you very much.
    Sincerly,

    James J. Fazio

  4. eric 18 December 2007 at 8:21 pm

    ummm…………………………………………………………………..

  5. Ray 28 February 2008 at 7:58 am

    That just sounds fantastic!

    Although I’ve never tried lasagna, I sometimes make what could be maybe described as soufflé (called ‘Scheiterhaufen’ in Austria, but not really cause that would be probably with apples and stuff). That works without the special lasagna noodles and instead using a sauce with cheese and eggs included to bind the things (like usual (spiral)noodles, vegetables, ham,..) together. With lots of cheese!

    Anyway, some day I’ll try lasagna.
    Kind regards.

  6. Cand 1 May 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks, been lookin for a good lasagna recipe for ages!

  7. Jenny 23 July 2008 at 7:10 am

    Xtremley greatful to find this lasagne receipe which includes the ingredients to make a bechamel souffle sauce – thx :-)

  8. [...] to my blog have been looking for heartier recipes too, such as lasagna (always popular), tomato sauce for pasta and roasted chicken breasts. Check out this new technique I [...]

  9. Ausse Guy 6 December 2008 at 11:35 pm

    OMG That was the greatest lasgina i have ever made
    even my mom sayed i am better than her so thank u for that mate.

  10. What’s Cooking in January « Simply Cooking 30 December 2008 at 9:56 am

    [...] to my blog have been all over the place too, looking for everything from lasagna to a simple tomato sauce for pasta, from roasted chicken breasts and vegetables to stir-fry, from [...]

  11. wanie 19 May 2009 at 12:31 pm

    i love lasagna.. but dont know how to make it. Now i will try this recipe out. Thank you! Yummyyyyy…..

  12. [...] my cooking blog, Simply Cooking, check out how to make lasagna, sorbet, roasted chicken breasts, quick and easy tomato sauce for pasta and pan-fried chicken and [...]

  13. [...] my cooking blog, the usual suspects are at the top. People still want to know how to make lasagna, roasted chicken breasts, sorbet and quick tomato sauce for pasta. Possibly related posts: [...]

  14. How to Make a Gratin « Simply Cooking 28 March 2010 at 1:06 pm

    [...] lighten it with substitutions such as half cream and half milk; stock or half stock and half wine; bechamel sauce; or even tomato sauce. You’ll need about 1 cup. Unless you’re using cream, bring the [...]

  15. Kitt 15 July 2010 at 8:50 pm

    thanks for this recipe, shannon. will bake after grocers.

  16. [...] nights call for lasagna, a hearty pasta sauce or roasted chicken and [...]

  17. Ella Aaron Mutunami 16 May 2011 at 4:42 am

    thanks your recipe was nice it was mwaa…..

  18. Sandra 19 May 2011 at 3:19 am

    Thanks so much for posting this. I have no luck with the no-bake noodles either. And I have been wondering if I should start with sauce or noodles. Your article is perfectly structured, well written, and extremely helpful! THANKS!

  19. Mary-Anne P 9 June 2011 at 6:20 pm

    WOW, THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST AMAZING WAY TO EXPLAIN HOW TO MAKE A TASTY DISH!!i WILL TRY IT TONIGHT!THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  20. Chisomo 24 July 2011 at 3:05 am

    Sounds too simple. Making my first lasagna dish now and i can easily follow your recipe. Thanks

  21. Joy T. Serino 9 October 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing your recipe!!! it’s an easy way of cooking lasagna and i’m sure my kids will like it and ask for more!!! You’re a good cook…

  22. Zainab 24 October 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Hey! Thanks sooo much! I was totally confused cause i didnt know how to make the white sauce…i loved the way you explained it step by step…..your a lifesaver! THANKS A MILLION!

  23. Phuese 24 January 2012 at 7:27 am

    Can I use pata sheets instead of noodles & if so how

  24. [...] it with Italian dishes that have thick red sauces and cheese.  It is perfect with your favorite lasagna recipe and be sure to pile on the garlic.  The wine’s body tends to amplify the flavors of the [...]

  25. [...] it with Italian dishes that have thick red sauces and cheese.  It is perfect with your favorite lasagna recipe and be sure to pile on the garlic.  The wine’s body tends to amplify the flavors of the [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,060 other followers

%d bloggers like this: