I love lasagna.

comments: 84


Lasagna. Perfect wintry dinner. I love lasagnas. I make them frequently and I think I've finally figured out the way I like mine: 1) NO sauce on the bottom of the pan. No sauce. Layer noodles thickly right into the (lightly oiled) baking dish to create a sort of "crust." When you put the sauce down first, it all soaks into the noodles and I don't like that. I like me a nice rubbery, ripply layer. 2) Speaking of noodles, don't use the no-boil noodles. Although they seem easier for obvious reasons, I have found that they just never stop "cooking," and ultimately get very mushy, and I don't like that either. Ina's recipe for Turkey Sausage Lasagna has you soak regular noodles in hot water for a while, and that works pretty well, actually. They still soak up some of the liquid in the pan while cooking, enough to truly cook, but they don't stick to each other and get all crusty and weird in the strainer while you are fussing with the other stuff. I don't like to rinse the hot, cooked noodles in cold water because they're all slimy and slippery then. 3) I like thick layers of stuff in general, not lots of thin ones. I'd rather have one thick layer of ricotta, for instance, then split the cheese up and have it sort of all mush together when you cut it.


Eeeeeewwww and yum. I love ricotta cheese. I've noticed that people either love or are disgusted by ricotta. Andy Paulson = disgusted variety. Maybe not disgusted, but certainly not a slobbering cheerleader for it, as am I. R-I-C-O-T-T-A!  Yeah! In our family we pronounced it like "rig-awt." We Giada-ified it. When I was old enough to see the word spelled I had absolutely no idea that the word "ricotta" referred to "rig-awt." My mother used to buy it fresh from the deli counter at the grocery store, probably Jewel or Dominick's. I have never seen it sold like that here out west in a regular grocery store. Maybe they still sell it that way in Chicago, or places with a larger Italian population. She would put the cheese in cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl for several hours until a lot of the water came out. Now I just dump mine straight out of the container. There is a HUGE difference, to me anyway, between part-skim and whole-milk ricotta. I can't even pretend to like the part-skim stuff. I would just as soon not have the lasagna. And cottage cheese in lasagna? I'll pretend you didn't just say that.

The most insanely rich but seriously delicious lasagna I know is the Spinach Lasagna Bechamel (scroll down that page to see it, and yes, I'd definitely use 2% milk instead of whole here) from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. My friend Dee McNamer, the beautiful and talented and ever-lovely Dee, served this at an English department party in Missoula once. Everyone who makes it and everyone who eats it is always slightly embarrassed to be that happy about something so bad for you. It seriously weighs about 26 pounds (not including the tare weight of your baking dish). Maybe make it if fourteen people are coming over. I've been known to make it for four. But they have to be close friends, so they'll feel comfortable wearing sweatpants to your dinner party (I encourage this when serving lasagna).


I love someone that knows what she wants! I like lotsa cheese on mine!

I'm with you regarding the no sauce on the bottom thing. Who ever thought that was a good idea? That is not to be disrespectful to those who love sauce on the bottom...

Good morning, Alicia! Delurking to join in on your cheer for R-I-C-O-T-T-A! Your post (which I love that it is an ode to lasagna)came at the perfect time. I've been thinking about comfort foods even though the sun has been making brief appearances in PDX. When you make the bechamel sauce, do you use 2% or (eek!) whole milk? I'll assume 2% for the good of our arteries. My husband is going to China for a month, so I intend to have a pity party for myself, eat rich comfort foods and embroider some pleasant dish towels. Thanks for a beautiful and inspiring blog!

ooh, I love lasagna too. Have you ever tried Mexican lasagna?? I made it for the first time over the holidays and it's yummy too.

Hi...I've been enjoying your blog for awhile now, and wanted to say hello...Love all the tips (and photos) on lasagna...Thanks!...Katie

That's funny, my mom says "rig-awt" too! I have been teasing her for years. :)
I've had luck with the no-cook noodles, but then again I was not happy with the way it overflowed all over my oven. I didn't think about how they'd probably expand when they cooked in there.
I do love to use my favorite little trick to make even the fastest, most thrown-together lasagna look like tres gourmet: I slice up roma tomatoes into thin slices, than over the layer of mozzarella on the top I lay them out in neat little rows and sprinkle parmesan and a little more mozzarella on top. They shrivel and crisp up and look so, so pretty and yummy!

I've been making weekly lasagna for the past few months, though it has been in the form of pasta bake, which uses smaller pasta (like rigatoni) instead of traditional lasagna noodles. I've found it works really well with ground turkey and spinach - drool.

I use regular lasagna noodles (no soaking) and layer them with the sauce, and cheese mixure and bake. Works fine. You have to add extra water to the sauce to cook the noodles this way. But they aren't mushy.

In the 70's a friend made me a ricotta and blackberry parfait. Two ingredients = perfection. My mom was a cottage cheese type but then she saw no difference between Italian sausage and Bob Evans breakfast links. Amazingly three out of four of us kids can really cook! One of my brothers fancies himself part Italian (he is not) and says rig-awt too. His family always have rig-awt cakes for special occasion. Anyway you scoop it I love it. Recently at a great restaurant in Philadelphia a blob of ricotta was served along with crusty bread. A little lemon zest had been stirred into the cheese, olive oil was poured over it and the fresh black pepper. Yum!

Yum- How about if instead of making it myself, I come over and try yours? Or you could always Fed-Ex some leftovers on dry ice? Kidding, of course. Your post brings to mind the best lasagna I ever had, made by my Italian friend. She even (reluctantly) gave me her recipe - but I've never tried it ! Your post makes me think that I really should. Hungry now.

I was thinking for this weekend "Lasagna" and there it is. I'm trying this recipe and will tell everyone that sweatpants are required!

Don't feel too badly about how rich ricotta is...It has four times the protein than that of cottage cheese, so just tell yourself that as you indulge. ;)

My mom says "rig-awt" too! I've never seen it phonetic though! Love it!!!

I'm slacking from work and it's almost time for lunch...now I really want some pasta!! Thanks for this entry, I'm going to have to try it some day soon. I've never actually made lasagna!

We must be on the same wavelength. I just made Ina's lasagna the other night. I substitute spicy pork sausage and almost double the mozzarella [the boys in our family love lots of cheese]. And I've never even tried part-skim ricotta. =)

well. i guess i'm going out to pick up some ingredients now...thanks for the yummy visual.

our version was more "rig-oat," I think. the one that really stuck with me, though, is "gah-noule" for cannoli, which gets me blank stares 100% of the time in Seattle.

yum, lasagna.

Mmmmmama mia! (speaking with my hands!)
buon appetito!

oooh, I have to make it now and yes to ricotta!!

mmmmm, lasagna. It's a comfort food kind of night here too. Meatloaf. mmmm meatloaf. My sons hate it so I pretent to hate pizza. That way I can say ... If I have to eat pizza for you, you can eat meatloaf for me. It's a win win for me.:o) Oh, and thanks for the nice response to my dog email. you're the best.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm now I want to make lasagne. I use fresh lasagne noodles - you don't need to pre-cook and they end up just the right texture if you ask me, and they're nice and thick.

those moosewood cookbooks are my favorites, such healthy comforting dishes! Thank you for sharing your lasagna!

Alicia--I love lasagna, I love ricotta and I would LOVE to see a picture of a chunk of your mouth-watering lasagna after it's baked and ready to eat! My hubby doesn't really like lasagna, but he may have to "suffer through" a nice, big baking dish of it soon...mmmmm...

YOu should try making your own ricotta...easy & really good. I never met a cheese I didn't like!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com