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Your Favorite Lasagna (not a discussion re traditional lasagna)

This is all about lasagna. But NOT about traditional sauce, traditional or authentic this or that. That thread would go on and on and on. This is about different ways that you make lasagna in your own unique style. Some new flavors, new tastes, new twists.

I make lasagna using zucchini thin sliced as noodles with fresh veggies and chicken sausage; mushrooms and gruyere with spinach; a total green lasagna which was a recipe here on CHOW, very good; a pepper lasagna with spinach lasagna and spicy sausage; and a ham and cheddar lasagna.

Now these are ones I have tried. What have you tried and any good ideas? I am looking forward to trying a seafood lasagna next with spinach pasta, seafood in a light tomato sauce with a combo of cheeses. Haven't come up with the recipe yet.

Help me come up with the next best lasagna.

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  1. Just three favourites
    #1) traditional-still my family's favourite-ove the years I have upgraded from bottled sauce to the real thing,from packaged noodles to fresh, from creamed cottage cheese to ricotta, liberally laced with egg and fresh oregano and parsley and from shredded dried mozzarella to the real deal

    #2) exactly the same as above except the noodles are replaced with slightly wilted, large de-veined cabbage leaves: my daughter lives gluten-free and this is "her" lasagna (and actually REALLY good

    #3) seafood lasagna: shrimp, scallops, good white fish and UNSMOKED salmon (the smoked salmon version did not work out) finely chopped and gently folded into a bechamel laced with sherry, swiss cheese and nutmeg...emmenthaler topping with a few shrimps for colour and dill for contrast

    Now, does moussaka count as lasagna?

    1. I have to say that my lasagna, while labor intensive, can make people cry. Here:

      Lasagne With Wild Mushrooms, Sausage, Four Cheeses, and Prosciutto

      Because this crowd-thrilling lasagne has to bake for only 45 minutes and rest for just 15, you can prepare and assemble it up to an hour before your guests arrive, and put it in the oven during the first round of cocktails. But keep in mind that the sauce needs to be started 3-4 hours before the lasagne is composed.

      Unless you really enjoy soaking and scraping and cleaning a lasagne pan, use a disposable “Medium Roaster” aluminum pan, approximately 16” x 11” x 3” (supporting the bottom with a jelly roll pan, of course). The aluminum pan even folds up nicely to store foil-covered leftover lasagne.

      This recipe uses “no-boil” lasagne noodles, which rehydrate rather thirstily, so don’t be stingy with the wines.

      The Beginning:
      3 tablespoons good olive oil
      3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
      3 medium onions, well chopped

      The Sauce:
      2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
      2 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, preferably without fennel, casings removed
      1 1/2 lb. ground chuck
      1 cup whole milk
      32 oz. of your favorite bottled tomato sauce (Raos is pretty good; so is Muir Glen with Romano Cheese)
      28 oz. can of tomatoes and their juices, squished with your impeccably clean hands (Muir Glen preferred)
      14-oz can of diced tomatoes and their liquid (again, preferably Muir Glen)
      2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, if available (never use dried basil; it has no flavor)
      1 teaspoon dried oregano
      2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
      1/2 cup dry French white vermouth
      1-3 tablespoons tomato paste

      The Fillings:
      1 lb. assorted sliced fresh wild mushrooms, especially shiitakes, chanterelles, and/or criminis
      3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water to cover
      Two good pinches of crumbled dried rosemary
      1/2 cup Marsala wine
      2 lbs. fresh ricotta cheese
      3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
      10-15 grates of fresh nutmeg
      3 large eggs, lightly beaten
      Freshly ground black pepper to taste

      Butter, for greasing the lasagne pan
      1 lb. grated Monterey Jack cheese
      1 cup crème fraîche
      1/2 lb. prosciutto (di Parma, if possible), torn into bite-size slices
      1 lb. fresh mozzarella (for topping)

      The Noodle:
      about 3/4 pound of No-Boil Lasagne Noodles (Delverde preferred)

      Set a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, and onions, and sweat until the onions are very soft, 10-15 minutes. Remove all but about 4 tablespoons of this mixture and reserve it for the filling.

      To the saucepan with the 4 tablespoons of onion mixture, add and brown the sausage and ground chuck, breaking up and stirring with a wooden spoon. Salt the meat to taste. When the last pinkness begins to disappear, drain fat to taste and add the cup of milk. Boil gently until the milk has virtually vanished, about 15 minutes.

      Add the remaining sauce ingredients, heat, stirring, and taste carefully. Now simmer the sauce, partially covered, for at least three hours. The mixture should seem a bit soupy as it goes along; add wine if it’s not. The noodles will absorb a lot of liquid.

      Now make the filling: First, get those dried porcinis soaking. Place the reserved onion mixture over medium heat in a large deep sauté pan, and “refresh” it with 2-3 tablespoons fresh olive oil. Add sliced fresh mushrooms to the pan, and cook two minutes, stirring, just until they release their liquid.

      Remove rehydrated porcinis from warm water, rinse them to remove any grit, and set aside. Pour the water through a very fine sieve into a cup, and pour the liquid into the pan. Chop the porcinis well and turn them into the pan with the rosemary. Cook until the liquid is virtually absorbed, a few minutes.

      Add Marsala and let it, too, reduce for a few minutes.

      Transfer mixture to a large bowl, add the rest of the filling ingredients (except Jack and mozzarella cheeses and crème fraîche), mix well, and set aside.

      Taste the sauce carefully. Adjust seasoning, adding tomato paste, salt, and/or even a jot of sugar, as necessary.

      Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an aluminum “medium roaster” pan. Cover the bottom with two ladlefuls of sauce. Lay in a layer of lasagne noodles to fit, spread on about a third of the filling, sprinkle on Jack cheese, dot with crème fraîche, then sauce again. Repeat until everything’s gone, finishing with the last of the sauce. Layer the top with the prosciutto and 1/4” wedges of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with oregano, if you wish. The lasagne can be assembled to this point and left to stand at room temperature for an hour before baking.

      Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until nice and bubbly. Let the lasagne rest for 15 minutes before cutting into serving wedges.

      Yield: 10 or so servings

      4 Replies
      1. re: Tom Steele

        Oh, man that sounds so good...just starting to plan an anniversary party...I am printing this off and adding it to the file! Have you ever made it a re-heated it the next day? often lasagnas are very tolerant of re-heating, even better after they have rested...

        1. re: LJS

          Like many stews and soups and other dishes, yes, lasagnas tend to reheat very well. But I've found that if I make this lasagne for five or more people, as heavy as the dish is, there aren't leftovers!

          1. re: Tom Steele

            Thanks...actually, I was thinking more of prep the day before and then reheating to serve on the day of the party? I do find that traditional lasagnas are pretty tolerant of this sort of treatment and this one looks like it would do fine...maybe a test run will answer the question (and please my husband no end!)

        2. Beschamel Lasagna!

          SAUCE:

          6 c. milk
          1 c. butter
          1 c. white flour
          Salt and pepper to taste
          1/8 tsp. nutmeg

          LASAGNA:

          1/4 c. vegetable oil
          2 cloves garlic, minced
          2 c. onions, chopped
          2 lb. spinach, frozen, thawed and drained
          3/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
          1 lb. ricotta or cottage cheese
          2 eggs
          2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
          2 c. grated Mozzarella cheese
          1 pkg. lasagna noodles

          Sauce: Heat milk until hot but not boiling. In another pan melt butter. Whisk in flour, cook 3 to 4 minutes, stir constantly. Add milk gradually. Stir until sauce thickens.
          Lasagna: Saute garlic and onions in oil until translucent. Stir in spinach and 1/2 cup of parsley. Set aside. Mix rest of parsley, ricotta or cottage cheese, eggs, 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook noodles al dente. Better yet, don't cook the noodles. Just layer the raw noodles in the pan as you would if they were cooked.

          Oil a large pan, layer ingredients in following order. First, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of Bechamel sauce, 1/3 of noodles, half spinach mixture, all of Mozzarella. Next 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce, 1/3 of noodles, all the ricotta mixture, the rest of the spinach mixture. Finally, 1 1/2 to 2 cups sauce, remaining noodles, the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle 1 1/3 cup of Parmesan on top.

          Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow 10 to 15 minutes for lasagna to set before serving.

          1 Reply
          1. re: notsochubbychubette

            Now add some very thin snippets of good ham and some sauteed mushrooms with reconstituted dried mushrooms (use the mushroom water in the bechamel) and then you're cooking with gas!

          2. kchurchill- Would you mind sharing the zucchini recipe? I can't find it on the site. Thanks & sounds delish!

            1 Reply
            1. re: heatcrave

              It has lots of mushrooms and veggies and chicken sausage but I love thin shavings of zucchini for a lighter taste vs the pasta. But you need a steady hand or a mandolin to thin slice. I have cut by hand but well worth it. You can use Italian sausage is you want, but I try to go lighter and use a spicy turkey or chicken sausage, but please feel free to use any meat you enjoy. There are some excellent spicy turkey and chicken sausage out there right now.

              4 components: Like any lasagna, tomato sauce, cheese mixture (some extra for toppings and grated and the meat/veggie layer and of course the noodles

              5-6 medium tomatoes rough chopped
              1 medium onion
              3 teaspoons minced garlic
              2 tablespoons fresh minced basil
              1 teaspoon dried garlic
              1/2 cup red wine
              a pinch of sugar and a pinch of cayenne
              s/p to taste

              Pretty generic, sautee onion, garlic in olive oil add the tomatoes, wine seasoning and cook down. At the end I like to puree, food processor or immersion blender, either or. I like a smooth tomato sauce for this.
              ------------------
              1 container ricotta 8 oz
              1 8 oz cottage cheese NO LOW FAT
              About 8 oz fresh mozz cut up in thin slices. I freeze mine and cut with fishing line or string. Can get nice thin slices
              3 cups pecorino romano
              1 egg
              pinch of nutmeg
              s/p

              Mix 1 cup of the pecorino with the everything and save the fresh mozz and pecorino remaining for a topping and the extra layers of cheesey goodness
              -------------------------
              3 links of turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed and browned
              1 medium onion
              10 criminis or button mushrooms thin sliced
              1 red pepper and 1 yellow diced
              2 tablespoons chopped parsley
              1 tablespoon minced garlic
              1 large rib celery diced fine

              Basically just saute the sausage until brown, remove and drain, then add the garlic, onion, peppers, onions, and everything until 1/2 soft and add the sausage back in. Season with the parsley and any s/p if necessary.
              -------------------------------
              5 medium zucchini thin sliced like noodles lengthwise

              OK MAKING LASAGNA. I think everyone knows the drill on this ... Spray pan casserole dish with pam, layer with a little sauce, then zucchini like noodles, then cheese mix then meat and veggie mix then a little grated pecorino and fresh mozz, then sauce then zucchini cheese mix, meat and veggies, grated cheese fresh mozz and sauce. About 4 layers of noodles. I usually end with sauce sometimes noodles, it doesn't have to be specific. I top with grated pecorino and if any extra mozzcheese and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes covered. Uncover the last 10 or so to brown the cheese. Let set a good 10 minutes before serving.

              NOTE: Because zucchini is watery ... I lay them out on a paper towel after slicing just for a few minutes. No need to salt since they are so thin.

              A great veggie dish which could easily be made vegetarian without the meat. It makes a big pan so have a deep dish!! You could always cut in half if you wanted.

              ---------------------------

              Once I used pancetta instead of sausage, gruyere instead of mozz and parm and another time used olives, mozz and parm and no meat but added spinach so you can really have fun with it. But it pretty basic

            2. I make a lasagna layered with my Cajun seafood sauce and mixed Italian cheeses. I saute red bells, onion & garlic in olive oil, add shrimp, Andouille sausage, smoked salmon, a splash or two of white wine, Alfredo sauce and lots of Cajun seasoning.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                That's a nice twist. Love the andouille. A favorite of mine.