The Art Of Lasagna Making

Italy has gifted the world a plethora of delightful dishes. From spaghetti to ravioli, pizza to cannolis, Italy is a country with quite the robust appetite. Perhaps one of that nation’s more interesting creations is lasagna, a layered pasta dish with a number of equally tasty variations. Dating back to ancient Rome and popularized in the picturesque city of Naples, lasagna combines the staples of many Italian dishes, including noodles, several cheeses and rich and hearty sauces. Want to serve a slice of Italy to your friends or families? Follow these handy tips:

Enhance your ricotta
In the bulk of lasagna recipes, ricotta is the cheese called for most frequently. However, there are a few steps you should take beforehand in order to ensure the right taste and consistency. For one, you need to thicken the ricotta, which you can do by letting in drain in a colander for a few hours. Thicker ricotta will keep the pasta in place and prevent especially soupy lasagna. To enhance the flavor of your ricotta, try ripening it with salt and lemon juice. The result is cheese with a little added bite and much less moisture. However, if you want extra creamy ricotta, add in some parmesan and a couple eggs. Some chefs will even add herbs like basil and thyme to the ricotta, which helps enhance some of the naturally grainy flavorings in the cheese itself.

Which pasta is best?
For lasagna, there are three basic types to rely on: dried, no-bake and fresh. In order to uncover the superior pasta choice, the folks over at Epicurious test-cooked all three varieties. In the end, fresh noodles proved to be too mushy, watering down most of the other ingredients and lacking in the proper structural strength. Meanwhile, the dried noodles were far too thick when they’d been cooked, which did not allow the other ingredients to blend together properly. No-boil noodles, it seemed, proved to be the best, remaining just moist enough and absorbing some of the pasta sauce. However, if you don’t opt for no-boil noodles, just be aware that most pasta needs to cook for about 10 minutes. Once done, transfer the pasta over to a pot of ice water to keep everything from drying out.

Consider the cheese and sauce
Consider the lasagna to be like a building. The noodles are the walls and floors and ceilings, while the ricotta cheese is sort of like the cement that holds everything together. So what does that make the sauce and additional cheese? Cheese is, in many ways, the decorations of the building, something added at the end to tie it all together. The best cheese is actually a blend, one consisting of parmesan and mozzarella, which pairs quite well with the ricotta. As for the sauce, there are a number of options. An all-tomato sauce is good, but for something that’s extra rich, use pork sausage or ground beef. Sausage especially has a really nice texture to it, and that slight pop of spice can round out the lasagna as a whole.

Learn more about the art of lasagna making when you enroll in online cooking courses.

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