Straightforward Lasagna To Feed 10-12 People?
December 18, 2013 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Next week I am cooking lasagna for 10-12 of my SO's coworkers after their Christmas day shift in the hospital. I am a decent cook but I've never made lasagna before, certainly not for this many people. Any Metfies have any favorable (and straightforward) lasagna recipes for feeding lots of people? I'm not looking for anything fancy, just simple and effective. Side question: I don't have any baking pans, could I use two of these instead.
posted by Spurious to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a recipe (I wish I had my dad's) but yes you can use aluminum pans. Just make sure you have a sturdy box for transporting as they will want to sag in the middle.
posted by amapolaroja at 6:09 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

This Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagne on is excellent. And it's vegetarian. Make sure you add enough salt, and be sure to read some of the user reviews at the bottom for tips on how to make it even tastier.
posted by hush at 6:23 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sure, you can use a disposable pan no problem --- I'd hit up the dollar store for one of the bigger ones, 9x13.

Not sure where you're from --- Americans tend to use ricotta in their lasagne, Europeans tend to use bechamel, I'd say ricotta's a bit easier so let's go with that.

Spinach lasagne: Super easy version

1) Preheat the over to 425. Get a couple boxes of no-boil noodles and soak 'em in hot water for about 15 min. (Just warm from the tap, not boiling. They can hang out while you're doing the filling)

2. Get 1 box frozen spinach. Defrost. Sautee in a pan with one diced onion, sprinkle a little salt, pepper and nutmeg over it. When onions go clear, remove filling from pan and set aside

3. Take 32oz container of ricotta. Put in a mixing bowl with two egg yolks and 1 c grated Parmesan, 1/2 12oz bag shredded mozzarella, a pinch of salt and maybe a tsp of black pepper. Mix everything together.

4. Get two jars of your favorite grocery store tomato sauce

5. Assemble: Layer 1: Put about a 1/4 c of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Add a layer of noodles over it, evenly covering the bottom of the pan. Don't overlap them too much, cut one in half if you need a skinny one for the edge. Layer 2: add about 1/3 of the cheese filling, spread evenly over the noodles. Spoon about 1/2 c tomato sauce on top of the cheese filling. Layer 3: Add another layer of noodles, sprinkle about 1/3 of the spinach over it, plus about 1/2 c sauce. Repeat layers 2+3 till you're out of filling. For the final layer, put a layer of noodles over the filling, spread another 1/2 c of sauce on top, then sprinkle with the other half-bag of mozz and half a cup of Parmesan

6. Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes, then take the foil off and let the top brown for another 15.

If you want to go with the slightly less-easy version, you can make your own sauce --- I like a sausage sauce with the spinach, but you could go with a simple marinara as well. If you have an Italian foods store near you, you could use fresh pasta instead of the no-boil noodles, they'll often sell lasagne noodles in big sheets that'll pretty much cover the pan without having to be trimmed. Don't worry about packing each layer of filing over the noodles --- it's okay if there's a few gaps here and there where you can still see pasta.
posted by Diablevert at 6:29 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's the recipe I use often:

Simple Cheese Lasagna
(from America's Test Kitchen)

15 ounces ricotta cheese (1 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup minced fresh basil (you can use flat-leaf parsley if you prefer or omit)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 cups tomato sauce (just about 2 jars)
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (one 8- or 9- ounce package) * Barilla or Ronzoni make good ones
1 pound whole milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper until well combined.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom. Place 3 of the noodles on top of the sauce and drop 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and spread over the noodles evenly. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of the mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the sauce evenly over the cheese. Repeat this layering two more times. (see below for assembly cheat sheet)

For the final layer, place the 3 remaining noodles on top. Spread the remaining 1 1/4 cups sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and then the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Spray a large sheet of foil with vegetable oil spray and cover the lasagna. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Bottom Layer: Sauce / Noodles / Ricotta / Mozzarella
Second Layer: Sauce / Noodles / Ricotta / Mozzarella
Third Layer: Sauce / Noodles / Ricotta / Mozzarella
Top Layer: Sauce / Noodles / Mozzarella & Parmesan
posted by belau at 6:39 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are so very many ways to achieve lasagna. For the classic meat sauce and three-cheese version, you need lasagna noodles; Parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta; and the meat/tomato sauce.

This simple recipe serves six; you could double it. That pan looks pretty shallow for lasagna though. I'd use a roasting pan with higher sides, if I didn't have a deep casserole dish.

8 ounces lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons salt for cooking water
16 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage (benefit of sausage is that it's already spicy)
1 large can (28 ounces) tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Start sauce about 30 to 45 minutes in advance.
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft; add ground beef or sausage and brown. Pour off excess fat. Add remaining ingredients; stir well. Simmer slowly, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Cook noodles in boiling water with 2 tablespoons of salt until tender, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. OR use no-cook noodles. Drain.

Arrange noodles on top of about 1/3 cup of the meat sauce in a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Cover with a layer of ricotta, then a layer of mozzarella, then a layer of meat sauce. Make 3 layers each (if you can) of noodles, ricotta cheese, Mozzarella cheese, meat sauce, and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 45 minutes.
Serves 6.
posted by caryatid at 6:42 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Trisha Yearwood's Cowboy Lasagna. You can leave out pepperoni if you wish.
posted by Fairchild at 6:45 PM on December 18, 2013

Use 3 metal disposable 9x13 baking pans

9 lasagna noodles per pan, cooked they will lay 3 across and 3 layers deep. Cook al dente.

1.5 - 2 lbs of browned and seasoned ground beef.

Spaghetti sauce: I like Newmans spaghetti sauce with mushroom in it you will probably need 1.5-2 jars.
I like to add more canned mushrooms but this is up to personal preference.

Cottage cheese. I add a lot. This is also personal preference. I like cottage cheese and find ricotta gross and too expensive. So it's up to you. I usually use a small tub for one pan. One big tub or a couple little ones. I eat this stuff plain straight from the tub so I always get way more than I need.

Mozzarella. You can do shredded in the bag. You can also do fresh mozzarella and slice it for the top and its divine. Or you can do a combination of both.

Spread a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Put 3 noodles down. Spoon on a bit of sauce and spread it around. Sprinkle ground beef, and gloop some cottage cheese in there too. If using shredded cheese toss a few sprinkles over it. Repeat.

End with a layer of noodles with sauce spread over it and the lay slices of fresh mozzeralla over the whole thing. Bake it until cheese is all gooey. About 20-30 minutes on 350°. Maybe more if you have 3 in the oven at once. Since everything is cooked that needed to be, you just are baking it to heat things up and make the cheese gooey.

Serve with garlic bread.
posted by HMSSM at 6:50 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Seasoned" ground beef by the way, is just pepper and other spices based on personal preference.
posted by HMSSM at 6:51 PM on December 18, 2013

I also make Ina Garten's Lasagna with Turkey Sausage. I leave out the goat cheese. I also cut way back on the salt. I find that Ina uses too much salt (and I like salt). So, if you make this, take my word for it and halve the salt. This one is not as simple because there is much chopping of herbs involved but overall, very easy. I have made this exact recipe using ground beef and it is just as good.

If you want something even easier but crazy delicious, you might consider making the Neelys Baked Ziti. People go cuckoo for this. It's delicious and easy and makes a lot of food.
posted by Fairchild at 6:51 PM on December 18, 2013

I make this recipe every year on New Years. Broken down into small steps and easy to follow. Pay attention to how he does the noodles; I usually end up soaking mine for an hour and I find that works best. It gives a much sturdier lasagna than boiling the noodles. This recipe will feed 10-12 people and will very likely impress them.

As for the pan, I'm not sure if the aluminum ones will bake quite right, since I've never used them. But this is a great excuse to get yourself a 10x14 baking dish, something that you'll find plenty of uses for. You should be able to get one for $10-$15, and as long as you don't drop it on a hard floor it'll last forever. I have one that I bought 18 years ago that still sees regular use. Or you can borrow one from someone. A glass or ceramic dish is really the way to go.

Good luck. A good lasagna takes a little time but it's oh-so-rewarding.
posted by azpenguin at 7:08 PM on December 18, 2013

I can't really add to the recipies in toto, but I do have one tweak:

If a recipie calls for mixing ricotta/cottage cheese, herbs, eggs, and spices before layering - do this step the night before, and let it chill overnight.

I find it helps with consistency and flavor development.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:19 PM on December 18, 2013

I'd double up on the pans: the disposables tend to be thin, so you might get some burned bits on the bottom. Or put them on a baking sheet, if you have one of those! Good on you for cooking!
posted by stillmoving at 7:37 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is the recipe my mom always used, and you really can't get any more straightforward. It is delicious, too, enough so that my husband now prefers it over the European-style bechamel lasagne he grew up with.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:42 AM on December 19, 2013

Consider whether you are using traditional noodles that need to be boiled first or the no-boil noodles. I now use the no-boil but make sure to use name brand such as Barilla although the original are better to me as they have more substance in the finished lasagna.

For your needs, the recipe on the box will probably be fine. Make sure each component is good, that the sauce you buy (imagining that you don't want to make sauce) is tasty, that the ground meat if you are using it is seasoned properly. The Ina Garten recipe mentioned above is good and uses sausage which is a good trick for more flavor.

Most importantly, lasagna is often better the day after and needs to rest significantly so the layers don't slide all over each other on the plate. So make it if you can the day before. Then heat it in the oven when ready to serve - to tell if it is warm enough slide a butter knife into the middle for several seconds then touch the knife to see if it is warmed.
posted by RoadScholar at 5:01 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've successfully made this from-scratch recipe for lasagna before. I usually use regular diced tomatoes instead of San Marzano; it's still pretty delicious either way. This recipe also says not to drain off the fat, but I would probably drain off at least a little bit so it's not overly greasy.

But still, it's my go-to from scratch lasagna recipe. Very simple, all homemade, and can be made vegetarian pretty easily (I've subbed spinach, mushrooms, and eggplant for the meat).
posted by PearlRose at 6:40 AM on December 19, 2013

Yes to Barilla no-boil noodles.
posted by cabingirl at 8:31 AM on December 19, 2013

My preferred recipe looks a lot like caryatid's with a couple of tweaks: add a finely chopped green capsicum to the onion and garlic step, along with about two dozen whole black peppercorns and three or four cloves fine-ground together with a mortar and pestle. The green capsicum adds depth, and an hour of cooking takes most of the heat out of the pepper and most of the overwhelmingly characteristic sweetness out of the cloves, leaving the sauce with a Certain Special Something that's deliciously hard to figure out.

Don't pour off any fat after browning the meat. Mmmmm, fat.

Add about half a cup of whole milk to the sauce near the end of its simmer and stir it in thoroughly.

Oh, and tomato paste is already pretty much fully cooked and will thicken your sauce right up and encourage it to stick; leaving that out until the sauce has almost finished simmering will reduce your chance of adding burnt notes you don't necessarily want.
posted by flabdablet at 8:48 AM on December 19, 2013

Oh, and a little splash of good red wine right after the meat has browned won't go astray either.
posted by flabdablet at 8:49 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Well then, here is a classic European recipe. I often make it in alu-pans if it is for pot-lucks or such.

If you can, make the ragù the day before (or week before, then freeze).

I prefer using fresh (supermarket) noodles, but no-boil dry ones are fine as well.

Ragù for 10-12 guests:

2tbsp oil
pinch of paprika
4 tbsp tomato paste
1kg of fatty (10-14% fat) ground beef
200 g porchetta, or bologna sausage or crude bacon or boiled ham (can be left out)
1 tbsp butter
2 yellow onions
2 large carrots
2 stalks of celery or a 1/2 root of celeriac
2-4 cloves of garlic
2 glasses of wine (red or white)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
salt, pepper, thyme and oregano to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste
(2 tbsp pesto)

1,5 liters of milk (whichever type you prefer, non-fat is fine)
1 deciliter butter
1 deciliter flour
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

pasta (read on the package how much)

Parmigiano cheese to taste

The Ragù:

Chop the onion, carrots, celery and pork meat very finely. Use a food processor or grate them.

In a cast-iron skillet or other heat-tolerant pot, heat the oil. When it is quite hot, put in a teaspoon of paprika and the tomato paste. Stir a bit. Cook the meat in this in four separate batches. Make sure each batch of meat is thoroughly brown before you take it of and put it in a bowl.

Now turn down the heat, add some butter to your pot, and soften the pork and aromatics, (onion, carrot and celery). When these are soft, add finely chopped or ground garlic and stir for 3 more minutes.

Put all the meat and vegetables and fats together in one pot. Stir. When everything is well mixed, add the wine. Let all alcohol evaporate completely. You don't want an alcohol taste in your food. Then add the crushed tomatoes. stir and cook gently for 5 minutes. Now add herbs and spices (but remember not too harshly, specially hold back the salt). At this point, I often let it bubble gently for five minutes and then taste. If I feel there is a need for more umami-taste, I may add an organic cube of bouillon.
Now put a lid on, and cook for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours. Often I do it in the pressure-cooker, so I cook it for 45 minutes at high pressure. Then I loosen pressure slowly while I prepare the other elements.

When you are almost ready to bake the lasagna, wether it is the day after, or several days later, or the same day, reheat the ragù, taste it, and if you like, add pesto and/or balsamic vinegar. + more salt, pepper and butter if needed.

In a pot, melt the butter, then add the equivalent amount of flour, stir continuously. When all is melted and turning slightly golden, add the milk gradually, stirring all the while. Just never stop stirring. Add spices carefully. When the sauce has the right taste and consistency, shut off the heat.

Assembling the lasagna. In your pans, first cover the bottom of the pans with a layer of béchamel. Then lay out noodles all over the pan. Then add ragù. Then bechamel, and then a new layer of pasta. Continue adding layers until your pan is almost full or you are running out of something else. The last level, on top of the last pasta, should be béchamel.
Now add grated parmigiano to the top of the gratin. Bake 20- 30 minutes. Take it out when the top is bubbly, and motley golden-brown to look at. .

Normally, I am very particular with the pasta, but recently I had to make do with some generic and very cheap store-bought pasta, and it was totally fine.

Serve with a green salad, or a salad of tomatoes and spring onions, or both.

As said above - this reheats really well.
posted by mumimor at 1:56 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

OOPS. I forgot: you can add additional moisture to the ragù in the form of milk or stock as you cook it. It must stay somewhat wet, for the noodles to cook properly. I usually end up adding a little stock, no milk, but each to his own taste, etc...
posted by mumimor at 2:51 PM on December 19, 2013

In contrast to the traditional recipe, here is my mother's recipe, one I've not seen the like of much anywhere else:

This is very America-centric, and quantities are in standard package sizes.

Ingredients (for a 9x13 pan):

1lb ground beef
1lb sweet/mild italian sausage (no casing, or remove the casing from some sausages)
1lb package of frozen chopped spinach
1lb container of cottage cheese (note: not ricotta or any of that "authentic" stuff)
1 medium can (I think--it might be two) of plain tomato sauce (8oz I think)
Lasagna noodles (eyeball the right number by just seeing how many you need for a layer--probably 3--and multiplying by 4).
Mozzarella cheese
Salt, garlic, oregano, pepper

Steps (1 through 3 can be done concurrently):

0. Preheat the oven to 350 F

1. Thaw the spinach, and mix with the cottage cheese using a food processor or blender.
2. Put a big pot of water on to boil. When it boils, add salt and boil the pasta for the amount of time on the box.
3. Brown the ground beef and sausage, add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano to taste. Simmer the sauce while the pasta boils. I'd start with one can of tomato sauce, and add an extra if it doesn't look saucy enough.

4. Drain the pasta and rinse in cool water to make it easier to handle.
5. Layer the lasagna: thin layer of sauce, pasta, spinach, pasta, sauce, pasta, spinach, pasta, sauce, mozzarella.
6. Bake for around 30-45 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before eating so that it doesn't all fall apart.

I love the combo of spinach with the meat sauce, and the red and green has a wonderful Christmasy feel to it. I find that a half-recipe can make 4 very generous servings, and would think a 9x13 pan would be sufficient if there are other foods being brought to eat. All of the amounts are pretty fudge-able, so if you can only find sausage in 3/4lb packages, or find yourself with a 1 1/4lb package, don't worry about it.
posted by that girl at 3:29 PM on December 19, 2013

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