What's the best thing about lasagna? It's the number of different cheeses that you can use when making this year-round dinner classic. Lasagna relies heavily on ricotta cheese, a cheese that many Italian dishes use in place of cottage cheese. It's lighter and fluffier than cream cheese, with a slightly sweeter flavor, and many find it infinitely more appealing than cottage cheese curds. Classic lasagna alternates layers of ground beef in tomato sauce with ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and often, you'll find the addition of Asiago, fontina, provolone and other cheeses. Perhaps the most tantalizing aspect of this Italian casserole is the thick, golden, bubbly top layer of cheese that greets you as you pull it from the oven.
Vegetarian alternatives have become popular, and they make a healthy, light, one-dish summer meal. Seafood lovers can enjoy lobster or crab lasagna. In fact, lasagna has essentially evolved into a big-noodle casserole with fillings of your choice. Even the classic tomato sauce is no longer obligatory. You might try a pesto sauce with vegetables or an Alfredo-style sauce with chicken. The only required ingredients are lasagna noodles and cheese, cheese and more cheese. Beyond those two ingredients, it's a wide-open playing field where you're free to create your own signature dish.
If you've never attempted lasagna, pasta manufacturers have put lasagna making within the realm of most home cooks. Look for the no-cook lasagna noodles to cut your preparation time by half.