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Oct 16, 2010 10:34 PM

Lasagna sans Ricotta?

DH loves lasagna. Unfortunately I don't like ricotta. It's a texture thing. Would love to see if someone has a really good recipe that would satisfy both our taste buds. We're anxiously awaiting some recipe's. He suggested I ask CH's. There has to be some meat sauce. Help me Obi-wans!

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  1. Any traditional Lasagna Bolognese won't have ricotta. Instead it should have a besciamella. There is one huge caveat though: if you aren't willing to make fresh pasta then don't bother. The lack of fat layers of ricotta place the focus on the pasta and the dried variety will be way too thick and toothsome.

    Here's a nice place to start:

    9 Replies
    1. re: cacio e pepe

      hey cacio, question for you.
      I have two rounds of fresh pasta I just made.
      they are different though and I'm wondering if either of them would be suited for lasagna.
      1. whole wheat flour and water only, no salt, no oil no egg.
      2. white flour, water, olive oil, eggs, salt.
      they are both good but the one sans all of the good stuff is very bland and mild.
      while the other one had a good texture and there was more to it.
      which one would you use or is there another recipe for a good lasagna pasta that you'd recommend?

      1. re: iL Divo

        A pound of flour (I use unbleached white bread flour), four eggs, and big pinch of salt makes pasta that's perfect for lasagna. For an extra hit of color and flavor, cook 12 ounces of frozen spinach, wring out as much moisture as you can, and include it when you're mixing the flour and eggs.

        1. re: iL Divo

          I think both would be excellent, as long as you roll the dough out thin. Personally, I prefer fresh pasta with eggs in it and I think that extra spring really shines in a Lasagne Bolognese. I would recommend that you make it at least once with the more common egg pasta.

          That said, I love experimenting with different grains, ratios, etc., with both pasta and bread dough so go nuts.

          1. re: cacio e pepe

            oh I do, go nuts that is.
            love experimenting with NYTimes Bread.
            love experimenting with pasta's too.
            last night, did ricotta filled fresh pasta with meat sauce.
            all from scratch, well, I didn't make ''the sausage in casing''.
            so very good, could have rolled the pasta thinner though.
            didn't know it could take another roll through.

        2. re: cacio e pepe

          I agree completely with cacio e pepe, with a caveat.

          If I'm feeling too lazy, or don't have enough time to make my own pasta, I still like either cavatappi or fusilli baked with both besciamella and Bolognese. You just boil the macaroni a little bit, then mix them with your sauces and bake them in a buttered baking dish. Just like mac & cheese, really. Serve with fresh parmigiano-reggiano.

          Oh, and I never make lasagna with mozzarella and ricotta.

          1. re: Jay F

            If I am feeling lazy, or short on time, I don't use pasta in my "lasagna". Instead, I will use eggplant sliced thin. I saute the eggplant while I am getting everything else ready. I particularly like this without ricotta as I don't like the texture with the eggplant. Instead, I layer eggplant, home made marinara, light layer each good home made mozzarella and freshly grated parm. Eggplant never seems to need meat to me, but my family likes it served with a good scoop of meaty sauce over the top.

          2. re: cacio e pepe

            Use Barilla no-bake lasagne sheets. They are very thin, and contain egg, so they are delicate and tender. I would think they were fresh if I didn't know better. It's a good idea to soak them in warm water so they are a LITTLE bit softened, so that you can cut them if you need to piece them to make even layers in your baking dish.

            1. re: greygarious

              I haven't tried these before. Sounds like a great shortcut. *However*, I think the more a person makes fresh pasta the easier and faster it is to make. Besides, if you're making a a slow-cooked bolognese sauce then I'm assuming you have a little time on your hands!

              1. re: greygarious

                I agree, these pasta sheets are perfect and make a very nice lasagna. At first I fought the idea of using these, but they are much thinner and don't have that flabby feel the other boxed pasta does, or those awful curly edges. I think the they take on the sauce better and are easier to work with.

                You can make a lovely bechamel sauce it's wonderful in lasagne. There are no rules, just use what you like.

            2. Who says lasagna has to have ricotta? I'm not even sure I've ever seen lasagna with ricotta. Make a Bolognese-style lasagna with spinach pasta (but forge ahead even with plain), rag├╣ bolognese, and bechamel and plenty of parmigiano-reggiano. Or just make what you like and eliminate the ricotta. In any case, lasagna is very flexible and forgiving. You can vary the format till the cows come home.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mbfant

                ricotta is very typical in italian-american lasagne. i also don't think you need to make fresh pasta if you have fresh sheets available from a good grocer or specialty store.

                agree with the others about using a bechamel though, you need something creamy to hold everything together as it all melts into gooey goodness.

              2. Search for Lasagna alla Siciliana for recipes. Typically no ricotta in any of them.

                Here's one -->

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  That looks good, Cheese Boy. I"m saving that recipe.

                2. This is the one I grew up on. Back in the day, in the Midwest, ricotta was unheard of and the moms in our neighborhood made lasagna with cottage cheese. My mother told me when she gave me this recipe that my 3 sisters and I thought that the cottage cheese in it was gross ( it was!), so she found this and used it for years:
                  ( I'm copying this down just as she wrote it out)

                  Mince and brown in a little oil:
                  1 large onion
                  1 clove garlic
                  6 sprigs parsley
                  Add and stir until well mixed:
                  1 small can tomato paste
                  1 No. 2 1/2 can tomatoes (I had to look this up! 1 lb. 13 oz can)
                  2 bay leaves
                  1 tsp salt
                  1/4 tsp pepper
                  1/2 cup water
                  1 lb. ground beef, breaking into little pieces with fork.
                  Cover and simmer over low heat 45 min., stirring occasionally.

                  Chop and saute in 4 Tbs butter:
                  1 small onion
                  Mix in until smooth:
                  3 Tbs flour
                  3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
                  dash of salt
                  Gradually stir in:
                  2 cups milk
                  Continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly til sauce is as thick as heavy cream.
                  Beat slightly:
                  2 egg yolks
                  Mix a little hot cheese mixture into eggs slowly (to prevent egg from curdling), then mix all cheese mixture and yolks together and cook over low heat for 10 minutes longer.

                  Cook 1 lb. lasagna noodles as directed on package, drain. Start oven at 325' and grease medium baking dish. Put a layer of noodles on bottom of dish. Pour over enough tomato sauce to cover noodles and add some of the cheese sauce to this. Continue with layers until all ingredients are used. Finish off with a covering of cheese sauce. Bake 20 minutes, then set under broiler until surface is bubbly gold. Serves 6 amply.

                  Now, I follow her recipe loosely - I do brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic instead of putting unbrowned beef in the tomato sauce. Usually I throw some shredded mozzarella between the layers and on top. I use no boil lasagna noodles to save the aggravation of dealing with wet noodles. And I do bake it longer than 20 minutes and forgo the broiling. I also put the Parmesan in the sauce after thickening the milk and yolk mixture.
                  My mother was of Polish and Slovac descent, so whether this was authentic Italian wasn't an issue. It is delicious, and that's all that matters!

                  1. my take on lasagna is almost always sans ricotta.
                    I've never been a fan of it either and being the cook, I can delegate what goes in a recipe or what doesn't. my choice has always been cottage cheese with a bechamel a very far second. if I do a bechamel, usually it gets a cheese of some sort added to it when making the sauce so it has more of a consistency instead of just being a white sauce, so either mozzarella or a mix of mozzarella and parm, just to give it an edge.

                    I have gone here many times in my quest for good information: