Lasagna..tips?

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    May 07, 2010 11:01 PM GMT
    Okay, I'm not countin' the calories for tonight's dinner, I'm making Lasagna for the first time. So, I understand the basics of it, just curious if anyone has any helpful little bits of advice or maybe some ingredient suggestions.
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    May 07, 2010 11:20 PM GMT
    Use the "no boil" pasta.
    Make the sauce extra thick using tomato paste, and extra fine in regards to the grind of the meat.
    Use a combination of lean pork and beef.
    Use extra virgin olive oil.
    Use more a bit more egg than normal to hold the lasagna together better.
    Use a deep square or rectangular casserole and aim for more layers rather than less.
    Reserve some sauce without meet and some mozzarella and Parmesan for the top of the lasagna.
    Although it is tempting to eat it right out of the oven, allowing the lasagna to cool so that you allow the cheese to pull back together makes for a firm, less messy serving/eating experience.
    Lasagna just about ALWAYS tastes better and feels better in the mouth after it has sat in the fridge overnight.
    Put an aluminum foil covered sheet pan under the casserole while in the oven to keep drips from splattering all over the bottom of your oven. Just pull the aluminum foil off and toss in the recycle bin. Clean up is that easy.
    Lasagna freezes well and makes a great microwaveable meal. Make extra if you're going to go through all that work.
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    May 07, 2010 11:27 PM GMT
    GAMRican saidUse the "no boil" pasta.
    Make the sauce extra thick using tomato paste, and extra fine in regards to the grind of the meat.
    Use a combination of lean pork and beef.
    Use extra virgin olive oil.
    Use more a bit more egg than normal to hold the lasagna together better.
    Use a deep square or rectangular casserole and aim for more layers rather than less.
    Reserve some sauce without meet and some mozzarella and Parmesan for the top of the lasagna.
    Although it is tempting to eat it right out of the oven, allowing the lasagna to cool so that you allow the cheese to pull back together makes for a firm, less messy serving/eating experience.
    Lasagna just about ALWAYS tastes better and feels better in the mouth after it has sat in the fridge overnight.
    Put an aluminum foil covered sheet pan under the casserole while in the oven to keep drips from splattering all over the bottom of your oven. Just pull the aluminum foil off and toss in the recycle bin. Clean up is that easy.
    Lasagna freezes well and makes a great microwaveable meal. Make extra if you're going to go through all that work.


    Dang, thanks, I really appreciate it.I'm a bit lost on the extra egg part that you mentioned, or egg at all as far as that goes. If you could elaborate on that it would be awesome, but if not I reckon with everything else that you've said I'll still be able to manage heh
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    May 07, 2010 11:32 PM GMT
    GHew saidDang, thanks, I really appreciate it.I'm a bit lost on the extra egg part that you mentioned, or egg at all as far as that goes. If you could elaborate on that it would be awesome, but if not I reckon with everything else that you've said I'll still be able to manage heh


    For the cheese layers, mozzarella and ricotta cheese egg are mixed together with egg as a binder. Use a little more egg than the recipe calls for. I also put real Parmesan cheese (not that Kraft crap that comes in the green shaker) in with the mixture for more flavor.

    Also, at the last minute, after the lasagna has baked, just before pulling it out of the oven, turn on the broiler to brown the top if it isn't already a deep golden crust. But be careful and watch it while it browns or you may end up burning the top. Bummer.
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    May 07, 2010 11:44 PM GMT
    GAMRican said
    GHew saidDang, thanks, I really appreciate it.I'm a bit lost on the extra egg part that you mentioned, or egg at all as far as that goes. If you could elaborate on that it would be awesome, but if not I reckon with everything else that you've said I'll still be able to manage heh


    For the cheese layers, mozzarella and ricotta cheese egg are mixed together with egg as a binder. Use a little more egg than the recipe calls for. I also put real Parmesan cheese (not that Kraft crap that comes in the green shaker) in with the mixture for more flavor.

    Also, at the last minute, after the lasagna has baked, just before pulling it out of the oven, turn on the broiler to brown the top if it isn't already a deep golden crust. But be careful and watch it while it browns or you may end up burning the top. Bummer.


    Gotcha, family didn't mention egg, but..you know lol. Oh, and as for as the parm goes, I wouldn't dream of usin' that crap in the green shaker lol (only for spaghetti and meatballs on rare occasion). I'm thinkin' about lightly fryin' some pepperoni and layerin' with some of that.. makin' it kinda pizza-ey. I'm also gonna make my own tomato sauce, of course I'll use oregano and basil, but any other suggestions for herbs?
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    May 07, 2010 11:51 PM GMT
    GHew said...
    Gotcha, family didn't mention egg, but..you know lol. Oh, and as for as the parm goes, I wouldn't dream of usin' that crap in the green shaker lol (only for spaghetti and meatballs on rare occasion). I'm thinkin' about lightly fryin' some pepperoni and layerin' with some of that.. makin' it kinda pizza-ey. I'm also gonna make my own tomato sauce, of course I'll use oregano and basil, but any other suggestions for herbs?


    Excellent idea on the pepperoni! Great variation on a classic theme! Another variation is to use small dice fried pancetta (a type of italian bacon that is smoked).

    Use fresh basil if you can, and a lot of it. Also oddly enough, fresh parsly chopped fine works well too. All herbs should be chopped fine. You can even put "fresh frozen" spinach (chopped fine) in the sauce with the meat for extra flavor and nutrition but beware....spinach lets off a lot of liquid and can make the lasagna too wet. Just make the sauce "tighter" by using more tomato paste. Also, make sure you drain off the fat from the meat.

    If you use garlic in the sauce, get a garlic press so that the garlic is very finely minced and disperses evenly.



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    May 08, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
    GHew said [...] I'm making Lasagna for the first time. So, I understand the basics of it, just curious if anyone has any helpful little bits of advice or maybe some ingredient suggestions.


    Sometimes I use salsa instead of some of the regular sauce. It's different but adds a good variant.
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    May 08, 2010 12:31 AM GMT
    I love cooking and watch the food network when I do watch television (which is rare), and have thought about countless different ways I could alter plenty of recipes and try new, more worldly ones. The problem is that I'm in a tiny ass town in southeast louisiana and the market here simply doesn't have any of the ingredients I need to experiment. So, back to the lasagna, I'd love to use fresh basil and other herbs, but I'm limited to dried as fresh basil is close to an hour away and Gregory ain't drivin' anywhere tonight. I could always go to town one day and buy some nice, versatile herbs but they'd likely be ruined by the time anyone's around to cook for, other than myself. Anyway, thanks for the help again :-)
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    May 08, 2010 12:49 AM GMT
    GHew said [...] The problem is that I'm in a tiny ass town in southeast louisiana and the market here simply doesn't have any of the ingredients I need to experiment. So, back to the lasagna, I'd love to use fresh basil and other herbs, but I'm limited to dried as fresh basil is close to an hour away and Gregory ain't drivin' anywhere tonight. I could always go to town one day and buy some nice, versatile herbs but they'd likely be ruined by the time anyone's around to cook for, other than myself. Anyway, thanks for the help again :-)


    Seasonal herbs and distant markets are problematic. Freezing is a great alternative to dried (yuk!).

    Freezing fresh herbs in ziplock bags can be very helpful, depending how much freezer room you can dedicate to it. That way you can add them to food when it's cooking (they don't thaw well at all) and have the flavor and aroma nearest to fresh. When the herbs are frozen they're brittle and all one has to do is to break it with the fingers or quickly chop with a knife and return the unused part to the freezer immediately.

    Each summer I make basil or parsley pesto with everything but the nuts and cheese and freeze it in ziplock bags (keeping it a thin flat layer while putting it in the freezer). When needed I break-off the amount I need onto the hot pasta and it defrosts quickly.
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    May 08, 2010 1:08 AM GMT
    BuddyinNYC said
    GHew said [...] The problem is that I'm in a tiny ass town in southeast louisiana and the market here simply doesn't have any of the ingredients I need to experiment. So, back to the lasagna, I'd love to use fresh basil and other herbs, but I'm limited to dried as fresh basil is close to an hour away and Gregory ain't drivin' anywhere tonight. I could always go to town one day and buy some nice, versatile herbs but they'd likely be ruined by the time anyone's around to cook for, other than myself. Anyway, thanks for the help again :-)


    Seasonal herbs and distant markets are problematic. Freezing is a great alternative to dried (yuk!).

    Freezing fresh herbs in ziplock bags can be very helpful, depending how much freezer room you can dedicate to it. That way you can add them to food when it's cooking (they don't thaw well at all) and have the flavor and aroma nearest to fresh. When the herbs are frozen they're brittle and all one has to do is to break it with the fingers or quickly chop with a knife and return the unused part to the freezer immediately.

    Each summer I make basil or parsley pesto with everything but the nuts and cheese and freeze it in ziplock bags (keeping it a thin flat layer while putting it in the freezer). When needed I break-off the amount I need onto the hot pasta and it defrosts quickly.


    I reckon I should've considered that that, next time I go I'll get as much as I can of what I can. I reckon I didn't ever think of buying and freezing because my location is still a big problem, and the nearest store with any fresh herbs is wal-mart and..they ain't got much more than the grocer across the street. At any rate, I love pesto, though I'm sure the pesto I've been exposed to ain't got nothin' on many other varieties lol.
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    May 08, 2010 7:44 AM GMT
    GHew said ...and the nearest store with any fresh herbs is wal-mart...


    Ok, I'm going off topic here for a moment. I'd sooner starve than shop at Wal-Mart. In my opinion, Wal-Mart is not a good corporate citizen, especially concerning diversity issues.

    Back to the Lasagna...

    Eat dried, just make sure you know that dried herbs can lose flavor as they age, and add them to the dish near the end of cooking. For the Lasagna, add to the sauce just before assembly.

    Please let us know how your Lasagna came out.
  • AlexGuess

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    May 08, 2010 9:37 AM GMT
    I once made a lasagna with spinach and cheese, tasted really good!
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    May 10, 2010 6:50 PM GMT
    Are you Italian GAMRican? Because my mother couldn't have given better advice. When are you having me over for dinner? icon_biggrin.gif

    I would also add that after your lasagna has cooled a little and you are just about ready to serve, throw it uncovered under a broiler. It will make the top crisp and bubbly and delicious.

    Also, I misread the title of this thread and thought it said "lasagna lips".
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    May 10, 2010 7:23 PM GMT
    Prepare it the night before you want to eat it, to let the pasta soak up some sauce before you bake it.
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    May 10, 2010 7:26 PM GMT
    Lasagna is my favorite dish to make. i make it every new years as a good luck meal.

    The base of a good lasagna is your Sunday gravy. Make it first and then build you sauce on top of that.

    I like to use sausage in my lasagna. Its a little bit more fatty, but has a lof more flavor than ground meat. Last time I made it, I used Italian turkey sausage. I cut it from its casing and cooked it loose. I also mixed low fat cheese with my skim mozz. those changes cut back the calories considerably.

    Personally, I like more mozzarella than ricotta. i also do not use no biol noodles. there is something about the whole process that is relaxing to me - even though I burn the hell out of my fingers and make a mess of my kitchen.

    To keep you lasagna moist, use some bechemel. I include a layer of spinach, portabellas as the center of my 5 layers. It adds color, texture and some more moisture.

    Lasagna is best after a few hours of sitting. It allows the noodles to absorb all the flavors. I like to make mine the night before, bake it about 75% and then add the top layer of sauce and cheese for a final round in the oven before I serve it.
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    May 10, 2010 8:17 PM GMT
    MunchingZombie saidAre you Italian GAMRican? Because my mother couldn't have given better advice. When are you having me over for dinner? icon_biggrin.gif

    I would also add that after your lasagna has cooled a little and you are just about ready to serve, throw it uncovered under a broiler. It will make the top crisp and bubbly and delicious.

    Also, I misread the title of this thread and thought it said "lasagna lips".


    LOL! Well Zombie, I've eaten a lot of Italian in my life and I enjoy the taste of the product of Italy's vineyards, orchards, kitchens, and of course, her men. ;-)

    My undergrad was in Hospitality Management. I have a year of classic French technique, and have managed front and back of the house in fine dining.

    Italian food has always been of special interest to me because is some of the most diverse cuisine in the world. I never cease to be amazed at the variety, depth, and novelty of ingredients and dishes from the rustic to the refined.

    Italian, food, wine, and men, are "Art which takes place in time" and which can stimulate and satisfy each of the senses with enduring and fond memories for a lifetime.

    I'd love to cook with you anytime, Zombie. It's something that my friends, family and I do together. The kitchen is the heart of my household and we all end up spending more time in the kitchen than just about any other place in the house. Eating is the destination, not just a pit stop.

    If you're coming to Honolulu, come soon. I'm relocating to San Francisco by the end of the year.

    "Finire di mangiare" and Be Well!
    Alan
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    May 12, 2010 3:01 AM GMT
    mmmm egg plant lasagna *drools* I totally gots to make dat soon!
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    May 12, 2010 5:26 AM GMT
    jprichva said...
    I don't know if that's how Fresh Fields did it, but I've been making eggplant lasagna for years. There's nothing to change, except in place of the noodles, you layer it with slices of eggplant that have been sauteed beforehand. They don't have to be completely cooked in the pan, because they will soften with the sauce and cheese as they bake. It's a carb-free lasagna, although that's not why I make it. I just love eggplant.


    Eggplant is a great substitute for either the pasta layers, or for the meat in the sauce. J that's a great idea for making a carb free "lasagna" style layered casserole! Also, using eggplant instead of meat is great for ovo-lacto vegetarians. Eggplant is high in vitamins and minerals.

    Grilling or broiling the eggplant is another way to pre-cook the eggplant instead of sauteeing. Grilling or broiling will give the eggplant a smokier flavor which can add savor to the dish.
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    Sep 02, 2010 8:51 PM GMT
    add some balsalmic vinegar to it, it makes it amazing
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    Sep 02, 2010 9:25 PM GMT
    GAMRican's suggestions are excellent; I'll just emphasize two of them:

    Use the no-boil lasagne noodles. Not only is it a lot easier but the noodles stay perfectly al dente. Traditional noodles always get too soft and mushy. If you must use the regular noodles only boil them for about 5 minutes; they will still be hard but they will cook the rest of the way when you bake the lasagne. GAMRican is right that you want a thick sauce but if you use the no-boil noodles you may want to go with a slightly more liquid sauce because that will help the noodles get soft while the lasagne bakes.

    Also, as hard as it is to resist, let the lasagne cool for about ten minutes before cutting it or you will have a big cheesy mess on your hands.

    The fried pepperoni or pancetta sound delicious. I also like ground Italian sausage in my lasagne.

    Lasagne must be served with red wine!!!!
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    Sep 02, 2010 9:40 PM GMT
    The best lasagna is in southern Italy - and it is very different from the US version (which I love as well, don't get me wrong).

    But they make their meat sauce (thick and rich) and then a separate b├ęchamel sauce (thick cream sauce) and layer them alternately between the pasta sheets.

    It is the best. Much lighter (tasting not calories) than the US version with ricotta and egg (equals a bit dense).

    now I'm hungry for pasta


    - oh and since it's easy to make for a crowd, what time is dinner? icon_biggrin.gif

  • mynyun

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    Sep 02, 2010 9:43 PM GMT
    I don't think it tastes as good when people use Cottage Cheese instead of Ricotta.
  • turtleneckjoc...

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    Sep 02, 2010 9:47 PM GMT
    GAMRican hit it with his suggestions, however, you can use ground turkey instead of ground beef to take out some of the fat/red meat content.

    And....use ricotta cheese mixed with one egg and layer that on top of the lasagna noodles. Finally, to make clean up just a tad bit easier, layer some of your sauce on the bottom of your lasagna pan and proceed from there with the layers.

    When you have mastered this, take it to the edge and use naan instead of lasagna noodles. I tried this once and it turned out great.
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    Sep 02, 2010 9:58 PM GMT
    Make a sandwich:

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    Dec 20, 2010 5:34 PM GMT
    i know this method isn't very traditional, but it works really well:

    my secret is bechemel (a french white sauce of butter, flour, milk, salt and nutmeg... recipes are easy to find online, and i usually omit the nutmeg in this application)

    alternate it with the layers of pasta, ricotta, meat and sauce. i've also used it as a replacement for red sauce to make a white lasagna.