Lasagna is a busy mom's secret dinner weapon. It's a great meal to cook at home because it's a relatively easy dish to prepare and it's filling, so a little goes a long way. Plus, most recipes usually make enough for leftovers, which is a bonus because lasagna is one of those foods that tastes even better the second day. Lasagna also keeps well in the freezer, so you can make two pans at once and freeze one for another meal. It's safe to say that given the sheer number of lasagna recipes out there, the secret to great lasagna is finding a recipe with ingredients that you love. Let's take a look at the ingredients that go into making this tasty dish.
As with any pasta dish, the sauce is a very important component, and this is also a great place to get creative with your ingredients. If you're adventurous enough to make your own sauce, consider starting with some fresh-off-the-vine roma tomatoes for maximum flavor and fragrance. Or, if you're looking for more of a quick fix, you can opt for the easier option of sauce in a jar and add your own spices. It goes without saying that oregano and garlic are must-have additions for an Italian red sauce, but the rest are up to you. Basil and rosemary are excellent companions for oregano because they add some sweetness, while sugar and baking soda cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Fennel, which is known for its licorice-like flavor, is a great addition to Italian sauces, and cinnamon is an unexpected but delightful secret ingredient that helps bring all of the flavors together. You can add ground beef or sausage if you want a hearty meat sauce, or consider ground turkey or chicken as a leaner option. Spinach makes an excellent base for vegetarian lasagna, or throw some peppers and zucchini in the mix for a tasty veggie medley.
A combination of ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella make up the typical cheese trio found in most lasagna recipes. So if you want to mix it up, try using a recipe that calls for cream cheese, which lends a thick and creamy consistency to the cheese mixture. Cottage cheese lightens things up, and feta is a great choice for a last minute cheese sprinkle on top. The key with cheese is to make sure it cooks just right with just the right amount of brown on the edges. To achieve cheese perfection, try cooking at a lower temperature for longer. Or if you want to go for a low-fat, lactose-free option, you can try making a no cheese version. Just be sure to up the veggie portions.
Lasagna wouldn't be lasagna without the wide noodles with the wavy edges. Preferred noodle texture in lasagna is on the al dente side, so very few recipes call for boiling the noodles before cooking. No boil noodles have come on the market as an option, but most people prefer using regular old lasagna noodles. The cook time is usually long enough to get the dry noodles to the right consistency. If you want to up the fiber, you can always opt for whole wheat noodles.