Who doesn’t love a good lasagna? In the colder months, a mess of pasta, melty cheese, and warm sauce hits the spot in a way that very few dishes can. For a lot of home cooks, the project of cooking up a lasagna can seem like a heavy lift for a Thursday night, but most lasagnas can be made in advance and frozen for whenever you’re ready to throw them in the oven. Don’t forget the broiler at the end — a lasagna is not truly complete without a layer of bubbling, golden cheese and crispy pasta corners.
Giuliano Hazan, The Kitchn
Not to get all “Italians mad at food,” but in my opinion, there can only be one Lasagna Queen: the classic lasagne alla Bolognese. We make it every Christmas, or, really, whenever we simply haven’t had it in a while. By “we” I mean “my mom,” because let’s be honest: Lasagna is always better when someone else makes it for you. That said, if you’re trekking out on your own lasagna journey, don’t be intimidated. Giuliano Hazan’s recipe pretty much sums it up, with pasta, sauce, bechamel, Parmesan, done. If you’re feeling fancy, divvy up the meat for the Bolognese between beef, pork, and veal. You can make the sauce in advance, like we do, or even make the whole dang lasagna in advance and pop it in the freezer for future heating and eating. And finally, for the lazy (it’s me, I am The Lazy), swap in no-boil lasagne sheets and save yourself the time and energy you’d spend making fresh pasta. You’ll need it. — Stefania Orrù, supervising producer
Melissa Clark, NYT Cooking
Multi-step recipes are perfect for winter. When the icy wind cuts through my drafty apartment, I don’t mind any small project that keeps me by the warm oven, especially if it yields a hearty, cheesy dinner and soul-satisfying leftovers for a few days. For this polenta lasagna, Melissa Clark calls for cooking the polenta on the stove with butter, spinach, and Parmesan, then spreading it out on a sheet and baking it (with more Parm), then layering slabs in a baking dish with a basil-ricotta mix, mozzarella, and marinara sauce. All those steps fade into memory when you reach the final result, which is consistently gratifying, as the polenta’s sweet corn flavors meld with the tomato-y, herby, cheesy lasagna. And it’s warm too. — Nick Mancall-Bitel, editorial associate
Melissa Clark, NYT Cooking
When asked if I had a lasagna recipe for this roundup, my answer was, no, of course not, who “has” a lasagna recipe? Doesn’t everyone just layer a bunch of stuff they like in the general cheese-and-tomato paradigm in a baking dish and cook the thing until it stops leaking? Alarmed by this question, I vowed to find and cook a lasagna recipe, you know, as an experiment. When my cursory NYT Cooking search yielded this matzo lasagna, I knew it was kismet, since they used to make us eat it for lunch during Passover while I was in elementary school. The recipe’s other twist is that it contains anchovies. Though I am aware that sometimes the food I eat has anchovies in it, and a lot of that food is pretty good, I have historically managed to avoid personally buying and using any anchovies.
So instead of the four anchovies the recipe calls for, I used anchovy paste, and if it lent any discernible taste to this lasagna, I couldn’t tell. The anchovy, however, was a gray herring. The real question surrounding this dish is what happens when you replace cooked pasta with matzo. Wouldn’t the matzo just melt into the dish? It definitely did, prompting the immediate reaction, “Wow, this is like, incredibly soft.” That doesn’t make it bad; it’s as good as anything with cheese and tomatoes can be, which, for the record, is pretty good. There are worse ways to use up extra matzo post-seder, and this dish is endlessly adaptable; you could add almost anything to the sauce or ricotta blend, or make your own ricotta, or add layers of mushrooms or meat. Follow it with leftover flourless chocolate cake, start a fire, and turn off all the lights. Amid the falling snow, the world will seem to glow like an eerie jewel box under the streetlamps. The ideal. Congrats to this tasty but soft lasagna on being part of it. — Rachel P. Kreiter, senior copy editor
In the realm of food, at least, I think we can safely say that smoke makes everything better. And so it stands that lasagna — a dish that’s already just a layering of proven food-world bangers — can only be improved by a hit of burning applewood. While this 2004 recipe slightly pre-dates the mainstream usage of the word “umami” by every Western food journalist, the dish is, nevertheless, a well-honed study in that particular kind of unctuousness. Smoked mozzarella is the real secret, combined with pork Italian sausage, prosciutto, tomato sauce, ricotta, and the other usuals. I’ve made this probably two-dozen times with multiple swaps (no-boil noodles, jarred tomato sauce) and it never fails, nor is it particularly complicated. The hardest part is waiting the requisite 30 minutes or so for it to set before slicing in. — Lesley Suter, special projects editor
Giada de Laurentiis, Food Network
I know, I know. Butternut squash in lasagna? With lots and lots of basil? No ricotta? This Giada de Laurentiis recipe might not seem like the Platonic, traditional ideal of a lasagna — that’s because it isn’t. In that way, though, it makes a great alternative when the classic Bolognese style feels either a little tired or a little complicated or, at least, not available to a vegetarian audience. The butternut squash and basil complement each other nicely — sweet and lively, respectively — and the process is simple and straightforward for a weeknight attempt. One handy tip: In seasons where basil isn’t abundantly available, I’ve subbed in pesto and it works just as well. — Dayna Evans, staff writer