Hearty lasagna can add warmth to cold days

Try one of the many variations of this favorite Italian entree as winter weather returns this spring

With the return of cold and snow, it’s time to re-examine a classic wintertime comfort food — lasagna.

A hearty treat that offers layers of meat sauce, sturdy pasta and gooey melted cheese, lasagna is a delicious entree that serves as the centerpiece of your table.

Just add a hearty loaf of crusty bread or garlic rolls and a green salad to round out your meal.

But as delicious as the traditional ground beef and mozzarella cheese dish is, there are other versions that are just a delectable.

Try a vegetarian lasagna or one made with spinach. Use a white sauce and chicken or, if you’re ambitious, try making your own noodles as well as the sauce.

Add a thin layer of cooked zucchini or yellow squash slices between the layers for added nutrition or spice up your lasagna by adding a dash of crushed red pepper, freshly ground black pepper, chili powder or ground red pepper (cayenne) to the sauce before layering it with the other ingredients.

Even if you pick a traditional lasagna, you can ensure it’s ready when you come home by making it in a slow cooker instead of the oven.

After baking, let your lasagna rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. This allows the ingredients to come together, allowing you to make more even squares when you cut it, and ensuring the cheese and sauce won’t run all over the plate.

If you are running short on time when making your lasagna, use no-boil noodles. Just make sure to use extra sauce, since it will be absorbed by the noodles during the bake time.

Or make your lasagna ahead of time. You can refrigerate uncooked lasagna as much as 24 hours ahead of time, adding an extra five to 10 minutes to your baking time to ensure the lasagna is cooked through.

Following are some lasagna recipes from www.allrecipes.com.

Artichoke Spinach Lasagna

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 14.5-ounce can vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

1 14-ounce can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1 28-ounce jar tomato pasta sauce

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 4-ounce package herb and garlic feta, crumbled


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook eight to 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for three minutes, until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and rosemary and bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach, reduce heat, cover and simmer five minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.

Spread one-quarter of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that’s coated with cooking spray. Top with three cooked noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over noodles. 

Repeat layers two more times, ending with artichoke mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.

Bake, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more, until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.


Sauceless Garden Lasagna

1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 portobello mushrooms, sliced

4 cups fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 8 ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles

 9 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced


In a large bowl, toss together zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, red onion, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then stir in basil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir mixture until evenly blended.

Place a layer of lasagna noodles into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Make a layer of tomato slices over the noodles, then spread a generous amount of spinach mixture over the tomatoes. 

Lay slices of tomatoes over the spinach mixture, then another layer of noodles. Place another layer of tomatoes on top of the noodles, and repeat layering, ending with the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until noodles and vegetables are tender. Let stand for a few minutes to set, then slice and serve.

Alfredo Chicken Lasagna Rolls

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 1-ounce pack ranch dressing mix

9 lasagna noodles

1 cup Alfredo sauce

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon

1 pinch ea. dried oregano and salt


Combine evaporated milk, chicken, and ranch dressing mix in a skillet over medium heat. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Shred chicken.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in the boiling water about eight minutes, stirring occasionally until tender yet firm to the bite. Drain and dry on paper towels.

Spread Alfredo sauce over each noodle, then top with shredded chicken.

Combine mozzarella cheese, bacon, oregano and garlic salt in a bowl. Sprinkle over chicken layer. Roll each noodle around the filling and place rolls in an 8-inch baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 35 minutes.

Slow Cooker Ravioli Lasagna

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 24-ounce jars pasta sauce

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 25-ounce package frozen cheese ravioli

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper in the skillet for five to seven minutes, until meat is browned and crumbly. Drain and discard grease. 

Stir pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, basil, and oregano into ground beef mixture.

Ladle a generous layer of sauce into the bottom of a slow cooker. Add layers of ravioli and meat sauce alternately until all ingredients are used.

Cook on low for three to five hours. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and continue cooking for 45 minutes to one hour, until cheese is melted.



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