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lasagna emergency

so my brother is asking me to cook lasagna for a dinner where he will proipose to his gf and have her parents there

so i wanna make it nice,

the recipes are not so much the problem as opposed to the hardware.

i never eat italian or lasagna out so i dont know how its served but ididnt want to make one giant lasagna and then plate on indivudual plates..

I wanted to bake a mini lasagna for everyone ( group of 10)

what hardware have you seen or can you recommend? I was thinking cast iron skillet? but porcelain would be cheaper.

thanks in advance

and if you want to offer up a lasagna recipe please do so- would love to hear.



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  1. I imagined small rectangular casseroles, but can't find any..... Did find this though:


    Other colors are a bit less expensive. Good luck, and you are a very nice sibling.

    1. Crate and Barrel has individual casseroles that would probably work.

      These are classic white and are $7. http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family....

      These are more rustic and are $4. If your first thought was cast iron perhaps these would work for you. http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family....

      But why are you discounting serving from a large casserole? If you let it sit a half hour after coming out of the oven it will be stable emough to cut and plate. You can cut portions from the center and serve them on a portion of sauce with fresh basil. Simple and classic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rainey

        You'd think Crate and Barrel would know to call them gratin dishes, not au gratin.

      2. Yes patrick, you are a great sister (lol)

        Do a test run, a nice thing about lasagana is that after it's done, you can freeze it and reheat it later, it's almost as good. I'd not do that for the main event, but you can play around and not waste food.

        no recipe but tips:
        -if the lasagana noodles say cook for 10 minutes, cook them for 6-7. You want them undercooked but soft, almost but not quite aldente. Otherwise you risk them turning to mush while you bake em. Dont trust a recipe that calls for fully cooking them first.

        -Extra cheese on top, get them fully cooked (if you can) about 10 minutes before serving time. Then, 5 minutes before serving, broil them on low to get the cheese brown and bubbly and dripping down the sides of the individual servings. Do not get distracted at this step, watch them like a hawk. Dark brown is great, black is right out!

        -garnish should be fresh-grated parmisian. Not pre-grated store bought stuff, grate it yourself. Pregrated has fillers in it and is often lower quality. A sprig of fresh oregano on each one would also be pretty.

        -for the meat, using a combination of italian sausage (caseless) and ground lamb is my personal favorite.

        -if your recipe calls for dried herbs, and you decide to go with fresh you need more, double the quanity.

        -If you are making the sauce (and you should) canned tomatoes are vastly better than unripe store bought tomatoes. Fire roasted canned tomatoes are really good, mmm!Ripe storebought (or better yet, garden) tomatoes are great if you can find them, but for lasagana I'd really use canned-whole-peeled tomatoes.

        Whatever container you use, make sure you have a plate to hold each one, don't want burnt fingers. Also, remember the rule of eating that says smaller portions taste better. So smaller containers are better than bigger ones, and then you make some extra and let people have another one or 2 if they like. Absense makes the heart fonder and whatnot :)

        Caesar salad is the perfect salad to go with it, and pretty quick/easy. Storebought garlic croutons, fresh parmisian cheese and roasted garlic cloves are my favorite toppings. Make sure the dressing has enough anchovies :)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Botch

          thanks all

          for the record.. i am a boy! haha

          i didnt want to make a giant casserole /lasgana because his gf's parents have had that and so have mine

          i wantto do something different even if its just lasagna

          you know kind of give the occasion a little more elegance even though the food is a comfort food.

          add a lil more wow factor to the food.

          thanks for the links.. looks like these are all round.. kind of a pain to shape the lasagna to that .. right? anyone tried?

          also these are all safe to bake in?

          thanks again

          1. re: lestblight

            Just had another thought... Mini bread pans. You would plate the lasagnas without the baking dish, perhaps pour a little sauce down on the plate before putting the lasagna down. You wouldn't have to fill them to the top, just to the appropriate level.


            1. re: lestblight

              Take a look at these square ones: http://www.organize.com/glasslock-2-c...

              I bought the 18 piece set of different sizes at Costco last winter. They are heavy, tempered glass like Pyrex, so I was surprised when I got them home and saw in the small print that they are not labeled for oven use. I decided to try, and they have been fine over repeated use. I place them on a sheet pan for baking, and leave them on the pan once out of the oven, until cool enough to handle. I suspect that the issue is the same as Pyrex in recent years - no longer made of borosilicate, it is more prone to thermal shock shattering than old-school Pyrex. So with all glass baking dishes, I use a metal tray under them and am careful never to put a hot glass dish on a cold and/or wet surface. I have even used the Snapware in the toaster oven, where it's much closer to the heating element, and it has emerged unscathed. Bonus to buying these is that you'll then have handy lidded containers for storage and microwaving (lids not to be nuked).

          2. You could use won ton wrappers for lasagna noodles if you don't want to make a big one. I'd do it in ramekins. They're pretty inexpensive at World Market, or were the last time I looked.


            I know the link says lemonade but it is for wonton lasagna. If you don't want to go the won ton wrapper route (try saying that three times fast), you could boil lasagna noodles and cut to size.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowser

              One more thought--you could do it in extra large muffin tins, well oiled, and turn them out. I'd put a parchment circle on the bottom first.

            2. Patrick, you may want to try a lasagna made with a bechamel sauce instead of the standard American riccotta cheese filling. The bechamel makes a much lighter lasagna. I have only made it with homemade pasta sheets (rolled to a 5 on my Atlas) so I don't know if store bought would be too thick. Basically, you just layer the noodles between a meat ragu alternating with a thick bechamel (I usually use some fresh grated cheese in the white sauce). I put bread crumb on the bottom of the pan. You can add and egg if you prefer more custard like to bechamel. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before cutting open. You can layer some spinach/chard in too if you like. Gives a very different texture than "typical" lasagna.

              1 Reply
              1. re: coo

                Is your meat ragu in tomato sauce, or is this a white lasagna?

              2. Lodge has some rectangular cast iron mini's that might work, but they'd be an expense for 10 people.


                3 Replies
                1. re: nemo

                  thanks for the great ideas! illupdate soon !

                  1. re: nemo

                    If there's tomato in the lasagna, the acid will cause an iron taste in the food.

                    1. re: nemo

                      When you're done with dinner, you could give them out as favors!

                    2. Have you considered doing free-form lasagne? Those can look quite elegant...

                      Some examples:

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: soypower

                        I had free form lasagna (didn't know how to describe it, but that was it!) at a restaurant recently. Very delicious. I highly recommend going this route.

                      2. Don't use cast iron with ANY acidic foods (like tomatoes).
                        Whatever you decide (and you have some good suggestions here) make a practice batch before the big night... since you've not made this before you will appreciate the practice--I speak from a nearly-disastrous pecan pie experience LOL!

                        1. It sounds like you won't have problems finding pans, but if you're going to use cast iron, I'd definitely recommend enameled on the interior cast iron. You'd be better off w/some kind of ceramic or earthenware or Emile Henry-type dish. I have made individual lasagnas for freezing in miniature loaf pans, but you'd still have to remove it and plate it; you wouldn't want to eat out of those. (I'm agreeing w/ Rainey that you could pre- cut squares and still do a beautiful presentation, w/a pool of sauce on the plate under the square and a sprig of basil on the side or a sprinkle of wild mushrooms over if it were a lasagna involving mushrooms.)

                          I love lasagna and make several different kinds. I'll share some ideas:

                          1. Use the thinnest pasta sheets you can find. I think thinner pasta makes for a more elegant lasagna. Of the dried varieties, I like DeCecco. If you make it yourself or you buy fresh, you usually don't need to cook it first. Trader Joe's has a nice no-boil lasagna. I was always skeptical of no-boil noodles, but was presently surprised by TJ's.

                          2. If making bechamel, consider making a parmesan-bechamel--just add a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan to the bechamel.

                          3. Or consider alternating layers of bechamel or parm-bech. w/layers of fresh mozzarella.

                          4. I make an ultra-rich version that my husband loves: It's a classic bolognese, but between each layer of pasta are alternating bolognese w/fresh mozzarella and bolognese w/parmesan cream. (I mix copious amounts of parmigiana reggiano w/heavy cream to form a sauce that is more of a paste.) This is hearty and delicious, very creamy, and very rich. Not a warm weather dish.

                          Some of the variations I use:
                          --Aforementioned lasagna bolognese (sauce is made with coarse ground pork, veal, and pancetta) w/parmesan cream and fresh mozzarella. (No ricotta)

                          --A dryer but very delicious wild mushroom lasagna: mushrooms are cooked w/ a bit of prosciutto and tomatoes, but the sauce ends up brown. It is layered with a thin parmesan cream. A wonderful autumny dish, fantastic alone or as a side to meat or poultry.

                          --A strictly vegetarian mushroom lasagna: layers of pasta, wild mushroom/white mushroom mixture, parmesan bechamel sauce

                          --A simple completely meatless version: Pasta, homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, and one middle layer of a mixture of ricotta, egg, and parmesan. I usually spoon some pesto, which I usually have in the fridge, between one of the layers for a little basil kick.

                          --Chicken and wild mushroom lasagna with the same parmesan bechamel and usually some chard or radicchio or spinach between the layers.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            Uh, if you would be willing to list or link to the wild mushroom lasagna recipe you mentioned, I would be eternally grateful!

                          2. Okay, I'm going to add my two cents here ... how about making stuffed shells? I make them with ricotta and spinach, but you can add ground beef or sausage meat as well. The presentation is simpler, and they are easier to serve Just google and there are many recipes to choose from. Good luck!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: critter101

                              I was thinking along these lines, too. Or Cooks Illustrated had a manicotti recipe that used lasagna noodles in rolls that would work, too.

                            2. If it were me I'd definitely serve the lasagne in individual casserole/ or small gratin.
                              Although I absolutely swear by cast iron, I really don't want to eat out of it. Okay, chili is okay. Cowboy and campfire food yes.
                              but. please use small little gratin dishes, I can't tell you how many times that that's the way lasagne or canelloni has been served to me.
                              Personally, I'd prefer canelloni, just because it's my favorite. But either way, they are both much better in the little gratins, I think they stay hotter and it's just lovely being served that way. Besides being pretty gorgeous to look at, you wouldn't have to wait for your dish to set up to cut either.

                              I have several shapes of these small baking dishes, and I prefer the set that is white ceramic and rectangular shaped. It's just a little bigger than the oval ones, and the extra space is great for oozy cheese and sauce. I have purchase quite a few of these at either Marshall's or Ross when shopping, but any of the kitchen supply houses should carry these. How exciting this is for all of you!
                              Not to mention you're sure sweet to do this for your brother, congratulations!

                              1. Hi Patrick - I have these Le Creuset gratin dishes and though they're not cheap, they do make a great presentation:


                                In terms of dealing w/rounded edges on the dishes and rectangular noodles - I don't know if you're cooking your noodles . . . but one thing to consider is getting fresh noodles so that you can cut them easily to fit before boiling. Or, if you want to cut corners (like I do, but I know this is a fancy meal, so you might wanna do a dry run beforehand to make sure this is to your liking), you don't even have to cook the fresh noodles before you put 'em in the casserole dishes w/all the other stuff.

                                Good luck - it will be a meal to remember, I'm sure!


                                1. So i found the perfect dish.

                                  Le Creuset...rectangular baking dish.. 7" across
                                  and on sale at marshalls for 5 bucks.

                                  so i picked up 12 of them. very lucky indeed to have found.

                                  now i consider my recipe here.

                                  i dont want tomato sauce lasagna.. while its classic.. its also boring.

                                  so here are my options...

                                  roasted red pepper lasgana

                                  vodka sauce lasagna

                                  and then theres the bechamel roasted red pepper or vodka sauce option.

                                  the lasgana will probably have ground beef in it.. no other anima;s though since a few of the faint of heart will be at dinner.,

                                  what do you think?

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: lestblight

                                    Wow I never thought of vodka sauce lasagna, you could just make with proscuitto and shallots for texture, rather than anything heavy. I might just do this for Christmas!

                                    1. re: lestblight

                                      I like the roasted red pepper lasagna, the vodka sauce would be overwhelmed, I think.

                                      1. re: jeanmarieok

                                        roasted red alone? or with the bechamel sauce?

                                        like i said i never eat lasgana out.. so i have never had bechamel in my lasagna.. i grew up on my moms lasagna which was a south american version.

                                        so what do you say? yes to the bechamel or nay nay ?

                                        1. re: lestblight

                                          When I'm not being lazy, I always do bechamel in any type of lasagna. Takes it over the top. Over canneloni too, along with a marinara sauce, gotta have it! Definite yes for such a special occasion.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            do you layer it on every layer like on top of the ricotta? or is used sparingly like a secret weapon! ?

                                            1. re: lestblight

                                              I put it in between the two inside layers, along with everything else, but you could put it only once if you wanted. On the cannelloni I put it only on top though, like moussaka, so I guess it's up to you!

                                          2. re: lestblight

                                            good your dishes sound perfect. I like the vodka sauce idea, as long as it's not too strong, and yes with the bechamel. I use it on cannelon for the top, because it browns so beautifully. Red peppers seem like they might disappoint the true blue lasagne lovers, at my house they'd revolt if I added red peppers. For me I'm happiest when the lasagne is more about choosing cheeses that really go well together with the sauce and then of course a perfectly cooked pasta takes it over the top. The creaminess of the bechamel is not only gorgeous but really goes well with marinara.

                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                              I was going to say no to red peppers too, we love them in antipasta but not so much in the pasta itself. Maybe some spinach if you want veggies?

                                              1. re: coll

                                                I love spinach in lasagne too, that just makes a good pairing with the nutmeg in the bechamel.

                                                Omg, yes to the roasted red peppers in antipasa or wrap them around a mix of creamy soft cheeses with some hot copicola then pop'em in your mouth.

                                      2. looks like red pepper lasagna is being shot down and we are approaching a vodka sauce lasgna or marinara lasagna with the bech.

                                        those in favor?

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: lestblight

                                          I have tried several methods. One time I made homemade lasagna noodles which I dried on a wooden rack. Lasagna was very light. I also tried the no-boil noodles and last week I made my own sauce and tried to remember the recipe that I used about 30 years ago using meatball mixed with the sauce between one layer. The other layer consisting of a mixture of ricotta, eggs, parmesan cheese and parsley. It was a meal for 3 days.

                                          1. re: classylady

                                            Where did you get the idea for the ricotta mix? My mom has done the same mixture for as long as I can remember and she doesn't know where she picked it up.

                                            1. re: TampaAurora

                                              I use the same ricotta mixture also. Not sure where I got it from, since my mom doesn't cook with ricotta.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  I wouldn't know, I couldn't tell you the last time I ate someone else's lasagna!

                                            2. re: lestblight

                                              What about roasted tomatoes sauce? It's a step above marinara as taste goes. I just gently toss cut tomatoes, onions, garlic, seasoning with olive oil. roast 400 for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes start drying out. Puree. Use as it, or reduce on stove w/ red wine and fresh basil. Layer with bechamel, parmigiano reggiano, fresh mozzarella. Wow, $60 for baking dishes for this meal!

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                ok yes i digg the roasted tom. sauce.. could work.....

                                                but i cannot use canned for this correct?

                                                only fresh roma?

                                                and yes 60 bucks.. i dont mind.. im not paying for it.. my brother is financing it and i get to keep the new cookware

                                                so hey why not ! plus i guess u only get to propose to someone once in your life....wait a minute..

                                                1. re: lestblight

                                                  I've never tried it with canned, only fresh. Maybe someone else can shed light on that. Wishing the best to your brother!

                                                  1. re: lestblight

                                                    For something like that, I really think you'd need fresh romas. The good thing is you ought to be able to get them pretty easily at this time of year. Good luck!

                                                    1. re: lestblight

                                                      roasted tomato sauce would be wonderful. Easy too. I don't know how you'd make that with canned, unless it's premade and something as lovely as what you're doing, roast the tomatoes. Just slice or halve, halve the garlic bulbs, a small carrot, some onions, add olive oil and salt, and slow roast. A little char is always nice. I do the same for salsa. Puree, and then as its cooking add a couple of chicken wings. The richness it adds to the sauce is fantastic.

                                                      1. re: lestblight

                                                        You can roast canned tomatoes. Its great in the winter to perk them up. In my opinion if you can still get good roma or paste tomatoes that is better. I think it takes longer if I recall to roast canned ones, because of the extra liquid.

                                                        1. re: corneygirl

                                                          Agreed. The Wednesday Chef has a good recipe on her blog for oven-roasted canned tomatoes. I do a variation with kalamatas and feta. http://culinspiration.wordpress.com/2...

                                                  2. Another thought is to make the lasagna with ravioli. I am fortunate to live near a place that makes their own ricotta and mozzarella and has wonderful frozen ravioli. Hard to do any more than 3 layers and that's in a deep large dish. Layer them with cheese and sauce, top with sauce. Actually easier and quicker to put together (with a richer result) and serves so easily.
                                                    I've even made it with ravioli straight from the freezer - just takes a lot longer in the oven
                                                    Whatever you make, it sounds like a happy occasion! Wish I had a brother like you:)

                                                    1. Only problem I see with individual lasagna is that you will inevitably get that hard crusty lasagna on the edges. I know some people only like the "center cut" pieces and avoid the pieces around the edges or corners.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: monku

                                                        Try using aluminum foil when baking the lasagna. You can remove the foil about 5 minutes before serving or leave the foil on the entire cooking time.

                                                      2. Hello everyone.

                                                        so i went to little Italy in nyc to get some lasagna noodles/...

                                                        i came back with some soft sheets ( no ridges on ends)
                                                        they said that i dont have to boil ... just bake it.

                                                        what do you think? should i use these? or just go for store bought lasgna noodle that require a boil??

                                                        are they tastier? worth the effort?

                                                        i hera you need extra sauce or watery sauce so they can soak it up?

                                                        what do you think?

                                                        i can always boil them for a little bit anyways correct?

                                                        i dont mind the extra work.


                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: lestblight

                                                          By soft sheets, do you mean fresh pasta? If so, I think they lend an entirely different texture than dried that I think is especially suited to lasagne made with a sauce plus bechamel and without thick layers or ricotta.

                                                          Fresh pasta does not need extra sauce if not boiled. Unboiled dry pasta and dry no boil noodles really do.

                                                          If you are using fresh pasta you do not need to boil, but some like to. Here is a discussion with plenty of detail on methods: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650936

                                                          1. re: lestblight

                                                            I get "fresh" pasta that's actually frozen and you definitely don't have to boil it. As a matter of fact, there is NO effort, besides cutting to the pan size (I use scissors).They are much closer to homemade than you will ever get with dry pasta. The "no ridges on the ends" is just an added bonus to me. Haven't made homemade in the last few years since I started with these, not quite as good but better than most people are used to.

                                                          2. the noodles are fresh sheets... not the store bought no boil.

                                                            they are soft and doughy and frigerated.. well not that doughy.. but they are pliant.

                                                            so how do i treat these? do i need extra sauce for these? or is that for the store bought no boil?

                                                            i will check the link thanks

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: lestblight

                                                              No extra sauce. One thing my grandmother always said though, lasagna should always be made the day before so the pasta can absorb the liquid, and make it nice and solid. Then just reheat before serving. I would never make and serve same day, no matter what pasta I'm using.

                                                            2. hmm no extra sauce and no pre cook or dip in boiling water before to set ?

                                                              just cute squares and layer?

                                                              the dish i have is 7 inches across and about 2.25 deep

                                                              how long should i bake that for with the raw noodle??

                                                              i imagine i layer accordingly:

                                                              noodle then sauce on top and then ricotta or beschamel?

                                                              1. oh and i have never had bechamel in my lasagna.. i bought fresh ricotta made on a farm.. so should i just use that instead? or can i use a layer of bechamel? as well? would it be too much ?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: lestblight

                                                                  If you have special ricotta, I would hightlight that rather than covering it up with bechamel.

                                                                  Just cut the pasta to fit your pan, a scissor works fine. Start with a little sauce on bottom (you could thin with water if you want, it's just to keep from sticking), then the pasta, then I mix ricotta and mozz with an egg for the next layer, plus some grated cheese...you really need something more than just ricotta or bechemel or it will be very runny....so then a cheese layer, sauce on top which you can swirl into the cheese, then another layer or two of everything, ending with a layer of pasta and a nice covering of sauce on top. Then totally coat with grated romano or parmesan. That's how I do it anyway. I bake a full pan, covered, for about a half hour and then uncovered for 5 or 10 minutes, with the oven at least 375. But smaller dishes probably a little less time. Timing isn't that critical though, when you see bubbling on the sides it's done. As I said, I always do all this the day before and let it sit overnight in the fridge to firm up even more. Nothing worse than runny, falling apart lasagna!

                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                    I firmly second the suggestion to allow your lasagna to sit for a day in the fridge! Not only will it firm better that way, you'll give all the flavors a chance to mix with and enhance each other.