Five Secrets of Building the Ultimate Lasagna & The Perfect Lasagna Recipe

Five Secrets of Building the Ultimate Lasagna & The Perfect Lasagna Recipe - 4aKid

Become an Italian champ in the kitchen Five Secrets of Building the Ultimate Lasagna & Perfect Lasagna Recipe


We tested this dish with fresh, dried, and no-bake noodles and the results definitely surprised us: The fresh was too mushy when baked and the dried noodles were much too thick. We took a cue from this Quick Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna and went with no-boil noodles instead. They were thinner than the dried variety and absorbed the sauce really well without getting soggy. Bonus: Not having to wait for your pasta water to boil or fish out your noodles before they become a clumpy mess is a huge relief.

Five Secrets of Building the Ultimate Lasagna & The Perfect Lasagna Recipe


Most of the lasagna sauces on our site fall into two categories: A long-cooking, classic beef Bolognese or a fast, all-American tomato-meat sauce. After testing both, we ultimately chose the kind of sauce featured in Three Cheese Lasagna with Italian Sausage, using Italian sausage as our meat. The sauce came together much more quickly than a bolognese, and we preferred the flavour and texture of sausage to ground beef. Most recipes called for a mix of sweet and spicy sausage for the meat sauce, but we chose all sweet so you only have to buy one kind and can customize the heat level.



Most lasagna recipes, like this top-rated Sausage, Cheese, and Basil Lasagna, use generous amounts of grated mozzarella. Most folks just pick up a package of shredded part-skim mozzarella for this. But while this variety definitely melts easily and gives every slice those delicious strands of cheese, it doesn’t have much rich dairy flavour. Using fresh mozzarella adds taste as well as texture, and it’s easy to grate a ball of it using the coarse side of a box grater.

Five Secrets of Building the Ultimate Lasagna & The Perfect Lasagna Recipe



Lasagna can be laborious, no doubt, so the challenge was to come up with ways to save time without sacrificing flavour. We loved how this Sausage, Cheese, and Basil Lasagna calls for making the ricotta filling in a food processor. The basil, eggs and Parmesan rounded out the flavour and texture of ricotta. The result? A filling that’s creamy, herby, and downright delicious when baked.


Whether or not to include vegetables was another important factor to consider. Some recipes add mushrooms, peppers, and even zucchini, but those water-rich vegetables often turn soggy as they bake, watering down the lasagna. The solution? Take a cue from this Three Cheese Lasagna with Italian Sausage and use quick-cooking spinach instead. Once you squeeze out any excess liquid and season the spinach with salt, it adds a pop of green colour and some fresh flavour to the lasagna.




MAKES: 8 to 10 servings

ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes (plus cooling time)




For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano


For the filling:

  • Two 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the assembly:

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, or 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, steamed
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, grated (about 4 cups)


Special equipment:

9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish, preferably glass



Position the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375°F.


Make the sauce:

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the sausage, onion and 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes (along with their juice) and oregano; bring to a simmer, and cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon until in small pieces, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more red pepper flakes if desired.


Make the filling:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the filling ingredients and process until mostly smooth.


Assemble the lasagna:

Squeeze the spinach in a paper towel or clean dishcloth until very dry. Transfer to a bowl and season with a pinch of salt.

Coat baking dish with cooking spray and spread the bottom with 2 cups sauce. Top with a layer of three noodles, then a third of the ricotta mixture (about 1 1/3 cups), and a third of the spinach (about 2/3 cup). Sprinkle with 1 cup grated mozzarella.

Repeat twice more, skipping the mozzarella on the third layer. Top the lasagna with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups mozzarella in clusters so some of the sauce peeks through.

Place the baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly spray a piece of foil with cooking spray, cover the lasagna, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

DO AHEAD: The sauce can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. The filling can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.






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