Master Lasagna and its Variations

Lasagna is a staple on menus in households across the United States. Lasagna largely started in Italy, with a dish called lasagne, named for the fact that a key component in the dish is the flat, long lasagna noodle. While lasagna is now made in thousands of variations, the meal started with a rather simple and traditional recipe.

The key to good traditional lasagna is in the quality of the ingredients, most importantly the noodles. Traditional pasta noodles are made fresh using semolina and water or eggs, but when fresh pasta is not available, dried pasta is often boiled and used. Follow the directions on the package for cooking times as they can vary. Traditional sauce can be homemade using canned San Marzano tomatoes. Simply place the tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands, or if you want a finer sauce, use a food processor. In a sauce pan sauté diced onions and garlic until the onions are soft. Add the garlic in towards the end to prevent burning. Add the tomatoes to the sauce along with spices like basil, salt, pepper oregano and crushed red pepper if you like. For meat sauces, season and brown sausage, ground beef, or other protein before you sauté the onions. Remove the meat and drain the excess oil and then place the onions in with the leftover brown bits to increase flavor and continue as stated above.

To assemble the lasagna, start with a light layer of sauce on the bottom of your pan to prevent the lasagna from sticking. Build each layer starting with a layer of noodles, a layer of riccota cheese, a layer of mozzarella or parmesan reggiano, the next layer of noodles, a layer of sauce, a layer of mozzarella, a layer of noodles, a layer of cheese and so forth. Continue till you are 3/4 up the side of the pan or you run out of ingredients. Finish the top layer with the rest of your sauce followed by a layer of cheese. Cover the top with foil and bake at 375°F for 35 to 45 minutes. Take the foil off and finish in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly. Let sit for at least 10 minutes covered so the lasagna can set up.

Today, lasagna is often simply translated to a layered main dish. This means you can throw your own creative spin onto the dish by changing any of the ingredients. For example, you can change the sauce from a red sauce to an Alfredo white sauce. You can substitute beef or sausage with chicken or ground turkey, or include mushrooms and other vegetables to create a vegetarian version. You can also change the types of cheeses from traditional mozzarella or parmesan reggiano to goat cheese, feta, or colby jack. Your imagination is truly the limit.

Laura Davis currently writes for Access Rx , an online facilitator for Viagra, Cialis and Levitra online. Laura uses her research skills and extensive professional contacts to compile an extensive Expert Podcast Interviews Section

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