Need creative lasagna recipe for ricotta hater
April 27, 2009 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I have been asked to make lasagna with meat sauce, but was warned by one of the askers that she HATES the taste and texture of ricotta.

I worry that if I leave out the ricotta, some other important quality will be missing. If that's the case, I need a substitute or some idea to make up for the lack of ricotta. Cottage cheese is too similar, and I refuse to use the Velveeta recommended in some monstrous recipe I found online. I really just want a nice, home-made (from scratch) method that is flavorful and makes up for the loss of ricotta. Any ideas?
posted by Piscean to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe mascarpone?
posted by phoenixy at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2009

bechamel sauce.
posted by LN at 9:53 AM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: No need to be creative or do weird substitutions- there's the classic Lasagna Bolognese.
posted by zamboni at 9:53 AM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm thinking zamboni's got it. That sounds delicious, and no ricotta in sight.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:56 AM on April 27, 2009

Best answer: Can you blend the ricotta (in the blender) with egg and mozzarella cheese? That takes care of the texture issue that I have with ricotta or cottage cheese, and it might subtly alter the flavor enough that your picky eater could enjoy it?

Or hell, just make the regular recipe and use two pans. In your pan, delicious original recipe. In her pan, replace with tender sauteed squash!
posted by headspace at 9:57 AM on April 27, 2009

Tofu would work - just crumble it into very small pieces. It will take on the flavor of the lasagna and provide some alternate texture.

Cream cheese might also be good - we make lasagna with cream cheese and polenta sometimes.
posted by amanzi at 9:58 AM on April 27, 2009

I make lasagna using Mornay sauce with Parmesan cheese. I've found, though, that people always prefer their mother's lasagna recipe. You'll probably find that another guest *loves* ricotta and can't believe you'd ruin thier favorite dish by leaving it out.
posted by Hermes32 at 10:00 AM on April 27, 2009

I mix the ricotta with parmesan about 75/25 & whip in a couple of eggs. Makes it more custardy, less ricotta-y. Still, it's an integral part of lasagna. It seems odd that someone would request lasagna while hating one of the things that makes it so.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:01 AM on April 27, 2009

Lasagna bolognese is my favorite kind of lasagna. Your ricotta-hater will love it.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:01 AM on April 27, 2009

Mix cream cheese with some spices (garlic, onion, oregano.... what ever you put in a meat sauce.) and use that. It's good stuff.
posted by magikker at 10:02 AM on April 27, 2009

I hate ricotta, too--my mom tried using cottage cheese, but that didn't help. I don't think tofu would be any less objectionable. For me, and this dish isn't for me, Mornay or bechamel would be gross, too. We leave out that entire component when we make lasagna, using mozzarella, the shredded kind, not the fresh.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:05 AM on April 27, 2009

...just make the regular recipe and use two pans. In your pan, delicious original recipe. In her pan, replace with tender sauteed squash!

I'd do this. No sense sacrificing everyone's enjoyment for the quirky tastes of an individual. Everybody wins!
posted by torquemaniac at 10:06 AM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Has the ricotta-hater tried fresh ricotta? It is soo way much better than the stuff in the prepackaged tubs in the store!
posted by cestmoi15 at 10:09 AM on April 27, 2009

I'm not a fan of ricotta either, and when I make lasagna I just mix a little ricotta with a lot of mozzarella so that there is still a cheese layer but I don't notice the ricotta texture. The lasagna bolognese sounds good to me too.
posted by thejanna at 10:13 AM on April 27, 2009

I hate ricotta too, and I always make Lasagna Bolobnese as per zambrano's suggestion.
posted by ob at 10:19 AM on April 27, 2009

Cook's Illustrated uses cottage cheese and egg put through a blender. The book version of that recipe goes on at some length about trying a variety of dairy lasagna fillings and the pureed cottage cheese being the winner; I like ricotta myself, but the blended cottage cheese did work fairly well and was, I thought, different from ricotta or unprocessed cottage cheese. Can you please post a link to the Velveeta recipe for LOLZ?
posted by kmennie at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2009

I think lasagna bolognese is the way to go. And from very recent experience, I highly recommend using fresh (preferably homemade) pasta for your lasagna. Fresh/homemade pasta makes every pasta dish SO much better, it's kind of ridiculous. Even in lasagna, where I didn't think it would matter that much. Especially considering how easy* it is to make: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup semolina flour, 2 eggs, plus a dash of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil is all it takes!

*my wife just got a kitchen-aid standing mixer with pasta making attachment for it, so it might require owning the proper tools before it becomes easy
posted by Grither at 10:27 AM on April 27, 2009

Sorry, I think it's actually 3 large eggs, not two...
posted by Grither at 10:30 AM on April 27, 2009

try/look at thousand layer lasagna

its simple and you can tweak the sauce/make your own meat sauce + doesnt include ricotta
posted by knockoutking at 10:38 AM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

I hate ricotta but love lasagna. Substitute 500g of drained cottage cheese mixed with 1/4 cup chopped herbs (I like parsley and basil).

This is now my favourite part of the dish.
posted by saradarlin at 10:39 AM on April 27, 2009

Seriously, it doesn't matter what cheese you use. I hate ricotta (and cream cheese in lasagna is just wrong) so I never have it in the house. When I make lasagna I use mozzarella, parmesan and whatever other cheeses I have in the drawer that sound good. Shred it, mix it in a bowl with egg, fresh parsley, pepper and whatever other spices you like and layer with noodles and meat sauce.

The key to success in these sorts of dishes isn't blindly following some ancient recipe. The key is using fresh ingredients and mixing in lots of different flavors. Go crazy with the cheese variety. Add lots of spices.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:45 AM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

i've run into this issue myself... AS A RICOTTA HATER. perhaps "hate" is a strong word. i remember being totally weirded out the first time i saw someone using ricotta cheese in their lasagna. but, decades later, i seem to be in the minority and a lasagna savage at that as i've always preferred my mother's ricotta-less Chef Boy-Ar-Dee lasagna. i can't fathom substituting for something that shouldn't be there in the first place. icky poo poo.

if push comes to shove though, i'm more of a garbage disposal than a hunger striker, so if you put the italian foods in front of me, you can be sure it will be consumed... ricotta or not.
posted by swindlehorne at 10:59 AM on April 27, 2009

nThing cottage cheese. My mom would approve.
posted by furtive at 11:11 AM on April 27, 2009

What Mr Moon Pie and and jeffamaphone said: My mom never used used ricotta or cottage cheese; she didn't like it, so she just left it out. She used just the mozzarella, parmesan, etc. She always claimed her recipes came from her Italian-American mother, so I never questioned it. :-) I never even had lasagna with ricotta until well into adulthood, and only then did I discover that I liked it.
posted by Robert Angelo at 11:29 AM on April 27, 2009

I don't mind ricotta, but I really like the stringy gooeyness of sliced (not shredded) mozzarella or (even better) scamorza cheese.
posted by LouMac at 11:30 AM on April 27, 2009

Cottage cheese is too similar

Speaking as a person who HATES THE TASTE AND TEXTURE OF RICOTTA, like, with a serious passion, I'm going to correct you. I always use cottage cheese in my lasagna. (But drain it first, otherwise it's too wet.)
posted by mudpuppie at 11:36 AM on April 27, 2009

I always use a bechamel sauce, or een better, a cheese sauce. And my lasagne is legendary. ;-)
posted by pootler at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2009

I make lasagna all the time and I never use ricotta. Can't stand the stuff. I use copious amounts of mozzarella, or other melty Italian cheeses. Also: in the summer, I layer basil, cheese, and summer squash. It's tasty stuff.
posted by ColdChef at 12:35 PM on April 27, 2009

Yet another vote for cottage cheese + egg. The blender isn't necessary, because cottage cheese melts quite easily and uniformly. A b├ęchamel works well too, but involves a bit more work.
posted by lekvar at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2009

Very much depends on what, specifically, she hates about ricotta.

If it's texture, she's not going to like cottage cheese or tofu, either.

If it's the rich cheese flavour, she won't like the bechamel or mascarpone solutions.

Sounds like the Bolognese gets you out of the whole mess.
posted by batmonkey at 12:51 PM on April 27, 2009

I seriously dislike the gritty texture of ricotta. Cottage cheese doesn't raise this issue with me. I'd find out what her beef is with the ricotta and if it's the gritty thing, go for the cottage cheese option. Otherwise, use a bechamel or random cheese layer.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:27 PM on April 27, 2009

Bechamel is amazing in lasagna. Not only does it taste great, but I find it makes the lasagna a lot more structurally sound, so it stays in perfect layers when you cut it and serve it.

Mario Batali has a great recipe for a bechamel-based lasagna.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:28 PM on April 27, 2009

I'm going to nth bolognese. It's a classic. The other solutions seem a bit out there, and tend to just imitate a lot about ricotta, so you could still be grossing her out, while risking grossing other people out as well with an unusual substitute.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:58 PM on April 27, 2009

Mario Batali has a great recipe for a bechamel-based lasagna.

I completely agree. I changed from using ricotta to using bechamel because of his recipe. It really does make for a more structurally sound lasagna. Add some garlic to it and it's much better than ricotta.
posted by fiercekitten at 2:36 PM on April 27, 2009

Mario Batali has a great recipe for a bechamel-based lasagna.

As does Marcella Hazan. Yes, go with the bechamel.

I tried an Italian-American lasagne tonight, using ricotta, recipe courtesy of Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." The ragu was great; the lasagne, not so much. We'd done bechamel lasagne for so many years I didn't realize how superior it is to the American version.

Bechamel is creamy and rich without any pasty texture. It doesn't sit heavy on the stomach. Also, if you can do handmade pasta, it will be worth the effort. Good luck!
posted by torticat at 10:23 PM on April 27, 2009

Not to beat a dead horse but I'm in the Ricotta and Mozzarella camp (and maybe some Provolone added in for good measure...some Parm. Reg. couldn't hurt either).
posted by mmascolino at 11:33 PM on April 27, 2009

Drain cottage cheese, blend with spinach. Removes weird texture, adds delicious vegetable!
posted by that girl at 2:42 AM on April 28, 2009

I use both bechamel and sliced Mozzarella.
posted by nicolin at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2009

If you need to bulk it up to replace the ricotta, add mushrooms, spinach and/or yellow summer squash.
posted by theora55 at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for these great ideas!
posted by Piscean at 9:11 PM on April 29, 2009

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