How to Make Lasagna Without a Recipe - Easy Italian Food (2024)

Here at Food52,we love recipes-- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: We're showing you how to layer up a soul-satisfying lasagna. And you don't even need a recipe.

How to Make Lasagna Without a Recipe - Easy Italian Food (1)

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If bread pudding is the world's most versatile dessert, lasagna is its savory equivalent. With virtually endless permutations, lasagna can be swayed to take on any fillings you fancy. It can consist of a day-long affair of simmering bolognese, homemade pasta noodles, and layers on layers on layers. Or, it can be fast-tracked: if you make the bolognese ahead of time and use quick-cooking noodles, you can have the whole dish on the table in under an hour. And you don't even need a recipe.

With two basic sauces and elementary layering knowledge, you've got all the tools you need to make everyone's favorite comfort food. Justdon't invite Garfield to the party or there'll be none left for you.

More: Take a peek at the history of everyone's favorite layered pasta.

If you want to make a traditional lasagna bolognese, my personal favorite, you'll need a meat ragù, béchamel sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, and lasagna noodles. If you want your lasagna vegetarian, try subbing inmushroom ragù or a butternut squash puréefor the bolognese. With lasagna on our minds, we saved some incredible (yet blasphemous) bolognese in the freezer at Food52 HQ, but feel free to use your favorite recipe.

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How to Make Lasagna Without a Recipe

1. The key to effective lasagna assembly is organization. Prep all of your ingredients well beforehand, andlay everything out on the table so that it's easily within reach. Rectangular baking dishes work best, for reasons which are obvious if you've ever done a puzzle. However, the dish can be any size -- as you see, we opted for a mini version.

You have your bolognese or marinara or butternut purée ready right? Cook your lasagna noodles according to package directions, or leave them as-is if you're using the pre-cooked variety. To avoid sticking, lay out cooked noodles on an oiled baking sheet, without overlapping them. Grate your cheese -- here we used Parmesan.

More: Searching for another endlessly adaptable, crowd-pleasing baked pasta? Here's one that's pure genius.

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2.Make your béchamel. Heat some butter in a large pan until melted (we used 1 stick). Whisk in an equal amount of flour -- if you used 8 tablespoons of butter, add 8 tablespoons of flour, etc. Whisk until no lumps remain, then keep whisking for another two minutes. Voila, you've madea roux! Ever so slowly, start whisking in some whole milk, stirring the whole time, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Use about 8 times as much milk as butter -- if you used 1/2 cup of butter, you'll need 4 cups of milk.

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3. Begin the layering process by spreading a generous amount of béchamel along the bottom of your dish. This will keep the noodles from sticking, and also help create a caramelized underside.

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4. Next, add your first noodle layer. Keep a knife nearby in case you need to cut the noodles to fit your dish. Or, embrace your rustic side and rip them to size with your hands.

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5. Spoon a generous amount of bolognese on top of your noodles. You want a thin, even layer from corner to corner.

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6. Ladle out some béchamel sauce on top of the bolognese layer. Spread it out as evenly as you can. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect -- just try to avoid mixing the two sauces together.

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7. Sprinkle a handful of Parmesan cheese evenly over the béchamel.First layer: down. And you didn't even break a sweat!

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8. Repeat the layering process-- noodles, bolognese, béchamel, then Parmesan -- until your dish is filled to the top. Be careful to budget out your components so that last until the end. Remember, it's not about aesthetics; even if your lasagna looks like Frankenstein, it will still be one of the best dishes you've had all year. Make sure to save a bit of Parmesan and béchamel for the finishing touches.

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9. Finish off your lasagna by gently spreading a thin layer of béchamel over the top noodle layer (thanks, Deb, for this pro tip). Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese to create that coveted golden, bubbly lid, and your lasagna is ready for the oven. Alternately, you could make your lasagna up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap. If you're very organized, you can even freeze the lasagna, fully assembled, and have a show-stopping meal at the ready.

More: Unsure what dishes can handle a deep-freeze? Check out our guide to freezer-friendly foods.

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10. Bake your lasagna in a 400° F oven until the top is browned, bubbling, and the noodles begin to curl up at the edges. Depending on the size of your pan, this could take anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. Let the lasagna cool for 10 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with nothing but a glass of red wine -- this is a dish that can stand on its own.

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We're looking for contributors! Email[emailprotected]and tell us the dish you could make in your sleep, without a recipe.Check out what we've already covered.

Photos by Mark Weinberg

How to Make Lasagna Without a Recipe - Easy Italian Food (2024)


How do Italians serve lasagne? ›

Served. In a wide, shallow bowl with a broad rim (useful for balancing bread on, see below), which means the lasagne will sit squat in its own sauce, rather than those juices running all over the plate and going cold too quickly.

How to make lasagna without ricotta cheese or cottage cheese? ›

  1. 1 lb ground beef.
  2. 9 lasagna noodles.
  3. 1 12 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided.
  4. 12 cup parmesan cheese.
  5. 1 small white onion, chopped.
  6. 3 12 cups spaghetti sauce.
  7. 12 cup water.
  8. 12 teaspoon minced garlic.

Can you eat lasagna without baking? ›

Yes, you can have lasagna in the summer without turning on the oven! This one is layered with lemony ricotta, tomatoes, zucchini, and fresh basil. Carrie has 10+ years experience as a food writer, editor, and recipe developer. She is the author of Tasting Pennsylvania and a contributor to Simply Recipes since 2017.

Do they make lasagna in Italy? ›

Lasagna: Variations throughout Italy

In the north, especially in Bologna, the most popular version of lasagna features fresh egg pasta colored green with spinach and layered with ragú, bechamel and Parmigiano Reggiano. Each region of Italy has its own signature lasagna specialty.

What is the difference between Italian lasagna and American lasagna? ›

In case you were wondering: traditional American lasagna uses ricotta cheese and meat sauce as the filling for each layer, while classic Italian lasagna bolognese uses meat sauce and bechamel instead.

What is the correct way to eat lasagna? ›

Rather than cutting into it all at once, you should be using your fork to ready perfect bites one at a time, while keeping the rest of your serving of lasagna whole. That way, you can enjoy it as it is meant to be enjoyed: with all of its ingredients layered perfectly in place.

What do Italians use instead of ricotta in lasagna? ›

I like using béchamel sauce instead of ricotta because it holds the mouthwatering lasagna layers together and gives the dish an overall creamy texture. Using béchamel is also the authentic Italian way to make lasagna.

What can I use if I don't have ricotta cheese for lasagna? ›

Cottage cheese is the ideal substitute to use in place of ricotta in lasagna. It doesn't have a strong taste and will give you a creamy consistency between layers. You can choose to blend it, mix it directly with parmesan cheese and form a spread, or simply add spoonfuls where desired.

Can I use cheese instead of ricotta? ›

Opt for a small-curd cottage cheese—the large-curd form is a bit too lumpy. Goat cheese: Fresh goat cheese is an acceptable substitute for ricotta.

What not to do when making lasagna? ›

Too much between one layer and another will keep you from ever getting a perfect slice. Too little and all you'll taste is pasta. Do not put large pieces of vegetables or meat in lasagna for the same reason as above. To get a perfect lasagna, the filling should be finely sliced or even creamy.

Is lasagna healthy yes or no? ›

Overconsumption of lasagna increases the fat content, which leads to heart disease or strokes in some cases. Ingestion of high carbohydrates might have a chance to increase sugar levels, which may become dangerous for diabetes. Portion control promotes digestive health, whereas overeating promotes indigestion.

Is no-boil lasagna better? ›

No-boil lasagna noodles aren't just a convenient shortcut to piping-hot lasagna—they're actually way more delicious than the regular, frilly-edged kind you have to cook before using. Why? First of all, no-boil noodles tend to be much thinner than the conventional kind.

Do Italians put ricotta in lasagna? ›

While ricotta is included in certain varieties of lasagna in Italy, the style that serves as the primary inspiration for American recipes is the one from the region of Emilia Romagna. There, it's traditionally layered with pasta, bolognese, and béchamel—with no ricotta to be found.

What do Italians call lasagna? ›

Lasagna is an Italian word, and refers to the square sheet of pasta used to make LASAGNE. All the pasta dishes have a plural name. Spagetti, penne, maccheroni, trofie, fettuccine are all plural nouns. So lasagna in Italian is LASAGNE, if you refer to the dish.

Do Italians say lasagna? ›

When referring to the baked dish, regional usage in Italy favours the plural form lasagne in the north of the country and the singular lasagna in the south.

How is pasta traditionally served in Italy? ›

Pasta is often served as a primo (first course), with a meat, seafood or vegetable course called a secondo coming after that. To do as the Italians do, try serving a smaller portion of pasta as a primo for an Italian-inspired dinner party, or as precursor to a meat, fish or vegetable main.

Do Italians eat bread with lasagna? ›

As for bread, almost no one eats pasta together with bread, as both are carbohydrates. What many people do, however, even though etiquette advises against it, is to use bread to scoop up the sauce left on the plate. This practice in Italy is called scarpetta.

Does lasagna end with noodles or sauce? ›

After the initial sauce layer, add a layer of pasta sheets, ricotta mixture (or bechamel), sauce, and cheese. Then repeat the layers. Top the last layer of your lasagna with sauce and cheese.

Should lasagna be served hot or cold? ›

Lasagna in particular, though, is fantastic when eaten cold as it becomes a much more manageable beast to consume. With its slippery layers of pasta, sauce, cheese and whatever else, hot lasagna never stays together like you want it to. Order is preserved, however, when lasagna is eaten cold.

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