Tomorrow is the start of a brand new year, and we thought there was no better way to say Happy New Year than to offer up six brand new recipes to keep in mind for your upcoming meal rotations. Out with the old, and in with the new!
These six recipes have a few things in common. First, they will all feed a crowd (or a regular family with teen boys). Second, they won’t eat up an entire afternoon with prep time. Finally, they’re all variations on a delicious theme: Lasagna!
A classic way to make vegetarian-friendly lasagna is to make it with spinach. Those leafy greens pair well with pasta and cheese. But don’t be fooled into thinking spinach lasagna is diet food. Once you get a look at this recipe from Serious Eats, you’ll understand how decadent spinach can be.
This recipe is one that you can adjust based on how much effort you feel like exerting. However, keep in mind that each shortcut you take will affect the taste of the finished meal. For example, you could use frozen chopped spinach, but you won’t be able to sauté it in butter and oil. You can still season it with shallots and garlic, of course. We think it’s just as easy to use fresh spinach and wilt it on the stovetop, and the taste will be far more impressive.
You can also use boxed lasagna noodles, but this recipe is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at homemade pasta. While cranking out sheets of lasagna isn’t as simple as sautéing spinach, it’s another opportunity to elevate the taste of your dish.
The one point on which we differ with Serious Eats is ricotta. They advise using cottage cheese if you can’t find quality ricotta. We would rather eat store brand ricotta than put cottage cheese in lasagna. To each their own.
We know lasagna is an Italian dish, but the definition has grown loose over the years. Modern lasagna recipes feature a variety of fillings and seasonings. This recipe from Kevin Is Cooking uses traditional lasagna noodles, but nearly all of the other ingredients boast Mexican flair.
If you scroll through the list of ingredients, it may look intimidating, but that’s only because this recipe is heavy on the fillings and seasonings. It’s expected to serve ten people, but we suspect those are pretty hefty servings. The prep time is also quite reasonable; once you prepare the meat sauce, the rest of the work involves assembling all of those hearty layers.
What sold us on this recipe was Kevin’s strategy for “cooking” the lasagna noodles. Just soak them in hot water, right in the baking dish, while you prepare the filling. Drain the water, use tongs to transfer noodles to a plate, and then grab what you need as you create your layers. It’s a smart way to cut down on the dirty dishes and the number of burners you’ve got going.
White Chicken Cheese Lasagna
Another fairly well-known variation on lasagna includes white sauce and chicken instead of tomato sauce and beef. This recipe found on Genius Kitchen is just as rich as the spinach lasagna above, with a half-cup of butter and seven cups of cheese. But it’s not quite as demanding in terms of ingredients and prep time.
In fact, you can use boxed noodles and frozen chopped spinach in this lasagna. Pre-cook the chicken, and shred it or cube it. We always advise shredding your own mozzarella and parmesan, and ricotta is preferable to cottage cheese.
When you bake this dish, we suggest covering it with foil for 20-30 minutes, and then uncovering it for the remainder of the baking time. But if you like a browned, crispy cheese crust on top, go ahead and bake it without foil.
Lasagna isn’t typically what we think of making in the summer, but keep this dish in mind when you have a bumper crop of basil to use. Because pesto is the sauce for this recipe from Food & Wine, you won’t have to stand over the stove, stirring a white sauce or tomato sauce. Just give those greens, nuts, oil, and cheese a whirl in your food processor or use your immersion blender.
As for the noodles, boxed lasagna is fine here too. You can even reuse the noodle-soaking strategy from Kevin Is Cooking instead of boiling them on the stovetop. That will help keep your kitchen from getting hotter than necessary. Do grate your own parmesan though, and whisk the ricotta with an egg, salt, pepper, and a little water to help it spread easily.
Bear in mind this recipe is made in an 8x8-inch baking dish and only yields about four servings. Double the quantities and use a 9x13-inch baking dish if you need to feed more people.
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
Buffalo wings are one of those well-loved appetizers we’d much rather order at a restaurant than try to replicate at home. If buffalo sauce is one of your favorites, but you don’t want to fool around with dozens of wings, this recipe from Add a Pinch might become your newest favorite.
Robyn shares her homemade Buffalo sauce recipe, which adds the characteristic flavor to the sauce for this lasagna. But that’s not the only aspect of this recipe that will satisfy your craving for wings. Mix blue cheese into the ricotta for extra zip, and sprinkle it along with shredded mozzarella between the layers of sauce and noodles. There’s even a finely-diced rib of celery in the sauce. The only elements of Buffalo wings missing from this recipe are the bones.
We don’t think the stated prep time of 10 minutes is quite accurate, but this dish should come together quickly enough to plan it for a weeknight. We stand by Robyn’s recommendation to cover it with foil for half the baking time, and definitely let it stand before slicing into it. In fact, keep that advice in mind with any lasagna recipe; your servings will look much more attractive if you give your dish a few minutes to settle outside the oven.
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna
We’ll close with another vegetarian lasagna recipe. As with the spinach lasagna recipe at top, don’t count on this recipe from Bon Appetit as a low-calorie option. Although it includes a hefty helping of vegetables, it also calls for six cups of cheese and three 15-ounce containers of ricotta. This lasagna will be just as decadent as the spinach lasagna.
Surprisingly, this recipe also calls for no-boil lasagna noodles. We headed straight to Cook’s Illustrated to see what the experts had to say about no-boil noodles compared to traditional noodles. Their verdict is the two types aren’t interchangeable, so we advise against substituting traditional noodles in this recipe. Be sure to spread sauce and cheese over the entire surface of your no-boil lasagna noodles; they need that moisture in order to cook properly.
Another reason we chose to highlight this lasagna recipe is that you can prepare and assemble it in advance, and then bake it for dinner or even the next day. It’s a convenient way to serve a show-stopping meal.