Lasagne is an all-time classic comfort food dish – and these hearty recipes are perfect for chilly weather.
Some dishes – gazpacho, for example, or steak tartare – are acquired tastes. Lasagne is not one of those meals. Rare is the person who doesn’t occasionally crave a hot, thick wedge of silky pasta sheets, layered with luscious sauces and baked to crispy perfection in the oven. And as colder, greyer weather rolls in, lasagne seems like a more appealing dinner option than ever.
Below, you’ll find five lasagne recipes catering to a range of palates and dietary needs. Yotam Ottolenghi’s spicy mushroom lasagne, from his latest cookbook Flavour, is an intensely umami, peppery, chilli-spiked vegetarian dish, inspired by his co-author Ixta Belfrage’s childhood in Tuscany.
The chestnut lasagne from The Vegetarian Silver Spoon cookbook is a similarly hearty meat-free option, one that involves making your own fresh pasta sheets using naturally gluten-free chestnut flour. This recipe also makes the most of pumpkin and cavolo nero, two seasonal vegetables that could be replaced with butternut squash and kale if preferred.
More into meaty lasagnes? Joey Campanaro’s luxurious family lasagne recipe, using beef, pork and veal mince, is a labour of love that’s well worth the effort. Make it on a Sunday afternoon for a truly special end-of-the-weekend dinner. Those with slow cookers, meanwhile, should check out Katy Holder’s swiss chard lasagne, which also uses three different kinds of cheese (in this case, ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella).
Finally, if you’re not a huge pasta fan but love the richy, saucy format of a lasagne, try Celia Brooks’ vegan and gluten-free recipe, which uses ultra-thin layers of celeriac instead of lasagne sheets and cashew cream in place of béchamel sauce.
Serve with a side of simple green salad and, if you’re so inclined, a large glass of red wine. And don’t worry about making too much – blissfully, lasagne is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.
Spicy mushroom lasagne recipe
Yotam Ottolenghi says: “This particular ragù pays homage to penne all’Aconese, the first dish that Ixta [Belfrage] fell madly in love with. It’s served at Ristorante Pizzeria Acone, a community-run restaurant in the Tuscan village of Acone, perched at the top of the mountain on which she spent her formative childhood years. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but the complex, earthy and deeply umami flavour of dried porcini mushrooms is impossible to miss. This is our meatless take on that mythical sauce.
“The ragù can easily be made vegan if you lose the cream. It can also be made ahead and refrigerated, ready to be served with pasta or polenta, saving yourself the trouble of constructing the lasagne if you’re short on time. If you want to get ahead, the lasagne can be assembled, refrigerated and then baked the next day (once it’s come back up to room temperature).”
- 750g chestnut mushrooms, halved
- 500g oyster mushrooms
- 135ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 60g dried porcini mushrooms
- 30g dried wild mushrooms
- 2 dried red chillies, roughly chopped (deseeded for less heat)
- 500ml hot vegetable stock
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and quartered (90g)
- 2–3 plum tomatoes, quartered (200g)
- 75g tomato paste
- 130ml double cream
- 60g pecorino romano, finely grated
- 60g parmesan, finely grated
- 5g basil leaves, finely chopped
- 10g parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus an extra tsp to serve
- 250g dried lasagne sheets (that’s about 14 sheets)
- salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 230°C fan.
Put the chestnut and oyster mushrooms into the large bowl of a food processor in three or four batches and pulse each batch until finely chopped (or finely chop everything by hand).
Toss the chopped mushrooms in a large bowl with 3 tbsp of oil and 1 tsp of salt and spread out on a large, 40cm x 35cm parchment-lined, rimmed baking tray.
Bake for 30 minutes near the top of the oven, stirring three times throughout, until the mushrooms are golden-brown; they will have reduced in volume significantly.
Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C fan.
Meanwhile, combine the dried mushrooms, chillies and hot stock in a large bowl and set aside to soak for half an hour. Strain the liquid into another bowl, squeezing as much liquid from the mushrooms as possible to get about 340ml: if you have any less, top up with water.
Very roughly chop the rehydrated mushrooms (you want some chunks) and finely chop the chillies. Set the stock and mushrooms aside separately.
Put the onion, garlic and carrot into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped (or finely chop everything by hand). Heat 60ml of oil in a large sauté pan or pot on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion mixture and fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.
Pulse the tomatoes in the food processor until finely chopped (or finely chop by hand), then add to the pan along with the tomato paste, 1½ teaspoons of salt and 1¾ teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the rehydrated mushrooms and chillies and the roasted mushrooms and cook for 9 minutes, resisting the urge to stir: you want the mushrooms to be slightly crisp and browned on the bottom.
Stir in the reserved stock and 800ml of water and, once simmering, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you get the consistency of a ragù. Stir in 100ml of the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Combine both cheeses and both herbs in a small bowl. To assemble the lasagne, spread one-fifth of the sauce in the bottom of a round 28cm baking dish (or a 30cm x 20cm rectangular dish), then top with a fifth of the cheese mixture, followed by a layer of lasagne sheets, broken to fit where necessary.
Repeat these layers three more times in that order, and finish with a final layer of sauce and cheese: that’s five layers of sauce and cheese and four layers of pasta.
Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of cream and 1 tablespoon of oil, then cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 220°C fan and bake for another 12 minutes, turning the dish round halfway. Turn the oven to the grill setting and grill for a final 2 minutes, until the edges are brown and crisp.
Set aside to cool for 5 or so minutes, then drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of cream and oil. Sprinkle over the remaining parsley, finish with a good grind of pepper and serve.
From Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (£27, Ebury Press), out now
Chestnut lasagne with squash and kale recipe
- 200g chestnut flour
- 2 eggs
- 60ml plus 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 300g peeled pumpkin or butternut squash, sliced 6mm thick
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 300g cavolo nero or kale
- 50g plain flour
- 700ml milk
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 40g grated parmesan cheese
- salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Sift the chestnut flour onto your work surface, form it into a mound, and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well, add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt, then use a fork to gradually incorporate the eggs and oil into the flour until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for a few minutes, then wrap it in plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the oil, a pinch of salt, and some pepper and toss to coat the pumpkin. Spread the pumpkin (and the garlic) over a sheet pan, cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from the oven and discard the garlic; keep the oven on.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale leaves and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool, then squeeze out any excess water and chop the kale.
In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 60ml oil over medium heat. Add the plain flour and cook for a few seconds. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the milk. Still whisking, cook the sauce for 7 to 8 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and some pepper, then stir in the kale. Turn the heat off and stir in the parmesan.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin sheet, then cut it into 7 x 15cm rectangles. Salt the boiling water, add the dough rectangles, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta, then lay it flat on a sheet of parchment paper to dry.
Arrange a layer of pasta in a 23 x 33cm baking dish. Top with a layer of the béchamel sauce, then a layer of the pumpkin. Repeat these layers, ending with a layer of pumpkin. Bake for about 35 minutes. Serve hot.
To prevent the béchamel sauce from forming a skin as it cools (which can turn into lumps when it is stirred into the sauce), cover the sauce with parchment paper or cling film while still warm, pressing it directly against the surface of the sauce.
From The Vegetarian Silver Spoon: Classic and Contemporary Italian Recipes by The Silver Spoon Kitchen (£35, Phaidon), out now
Campanaro family lasagne with beef, pork and veal recipe
Joey Campanaro says: “My father loved ricotta cheese – so much that even if we were having rigatoni (and pretty much no one puts ricotta on rigatoni), there would always be a little on the side just for him. And he loved ricotta ravioli (especially the frozen kind), ricotta-filled manicotti, and, of course, lasagne. My seat at the dinner table was beside him, followed by my brother Michael, my sister Michele, and my brother Louie. My mum sat directly across from him, perched at the other end of the table. And I just loved to watch him eat.
“Sometimes, when all other memories fall away, you are left with a singular memory that sums it all up: my father loved ricotta. And this was his favourite lasagne.”
For the béchamel sauce:
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small whole yellow onion, unpeeled
- 7 fresh cloves
- 85g butter
- 60g plain flour
- 960ml whole milk
- flaky sea salt
- pinch of dried nutmeg
For the ragù:
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, ends trimmed, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 150g beef mince
- 150g pork mince
- 150g veal mince
- ¼ tsp cumin
- flaky sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 180ml red wine, such as chianti
- 1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
For the ricotta mixture:
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 910g fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- flaky sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 30g finely grated pecorino cheese
- 50g finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 455g fresh lasagne, store-bought
To prepare the béchamel: attach the bay leaves to the onion, using the cloves like pushpins to hold them in place. Set aside. In a small frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until absorbed and smooth, about 30 seconds.
Transfer to a small bowl and place in your refrigerator to get cold. (Don’t skip this step – it will keep your sauce lump-free once it’s added to the warmed milk.)
In a large, deep saucepan over medium-low heat, add the milk and the onion and slowly bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove the onion and discard. Add the cold butter and flour mixture to the hot milk and use a whisk to combine until the milk begins to thicken and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 1 minute.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl and strain the béchamel, using your wooden spoon to push it through the strainer and into the bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt and the nutmeg, and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it down so that it kisses the top of the sauce, preventing a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To prepare the ragù: in the work bowl of a food processor, add the carrot, celery, and onion and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. In a large, deep skillet over high heat, warm 3 tbsp of the olive oil until it shimmers.
Add the beef, pork, veal, cumin, a generous pinch of sea salt, and a few grinds of pepper and cook until the meat is browned, using the back of a wooden spoon to really get in there and break it up, 5 to 6 minutes.
Once the meat is browned, use your wooden spoon to move it to the side of your pan, making an empty spot in the centre of your skillet. Add the garlic and cook until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds – it cooks very quickly, so be alert! Right when the garlic starts toasting, add the reserved carrots, celery, and onions and give the whole thing a stir. Stir, stir, continuously moving it around, for about 30 seconds.
Add the red wine, the entire contents of the tomato can, the parsley, and 240ml of water. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, using a wooden spoon to stir it every now and then, until it thickens, about 40 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter the bottom and the sides of a 23 by 33cm baking dish and set aside. Drizzle a baking sheet with the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil and set aside.
To make the ricotta mixture: crack the egg into a large bowl, add the ricotta, a generous pinch of sea salt, a few grinds of pepper, the pecorino, parmesan, basil, parsley, and the red pepper flakes. Use a wooden spoon to mix until smooth and creamy – really take about 1 minute to just mix. Add the cooled, reserved béchamel sauce to this creamy ricotta mixture to make your life of lasagne layering even easier. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the lasagne sheets. Cook according to the package directions, stirring them frequently so that they don’t stick together. Lift them out of the pasta water with tongs (letting excess pasta water drip off) and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, laying them flat and drizzling with a bit more oil. (There is nothing worse than stuck-together lasagne sheets – except stuck-together crespelle.)
In the prepared baking dish, arrange 4 pasta sheets vertically to cover the entire bottom of the dish and ladle a thin layer of the ricotta-béchamel mixture over the top, followed by a thin layer of ragù. Repeat the layering process with pasta, ricotta-béchamel mixture, and ragù until you have used up all of your components, ending with a final layer of ricotta-béchamel. Spread the top with the parmesan.
Bake the lasagne, uncovered, until beautifully bubbly and brown on top, 45 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving so that the sauce sets and doesn’t spill out when you slice it and serve it to your dad.
Allow any leftover lasagne to cool completely in the baking dish before transferring to an airtight container and storing in your refrigerator for up to 2 days. Alternatively, if you have a lot of lasagne left over, just leave it in the baking dish and wrap tightly with plastic wrap before storing.
From Big Love Cooking: 75 Recipes For Satisfying, Shareable Comfort Food by Joey Campanaro with Theresa Gambacorta (£21.99, Chronicle Books), out now
Three-cheese and swiss chard lasagne recipe
- 80ml extra virgin olive oil
- 750g swiss chard, leaves finely shredded, stems finely chopped, kept separate
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
- large handful basil, stems finely chopped, leaves coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 400g ricotta cheese
- 100g finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
- 150g bocconcini or mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 250–300g lasagne sheets
- green salad, to serve (optional)
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Cook the swiss chard stems and onion for 2 minutes, then add the chard leaves and cook for a further 3 minutes until wilted. Drain, squeezing out any excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool while making the tomato sauce.
Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan over medium–low heat. Add the garlic and basil stems and cook for 3 minutes until golden. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for 1 minute before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
Add the three cheeses, egg and basil leaves to the bowl with the chard and mix well. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer about one-third of the tomato sauce to the slow cooker and spread over the base. Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets (about one-third of the sheets) on top of the sauce, snapping to fit if necessary. Top with half of the swiss chard mixture, another layer of lasagne sheets and another third of the sauce. Top with the remaining filling, lasagne sheets and tomato sauce. Cook on low for 3 hours, or until the pasta is tender.
Serve with extra grated parmesan and a green salad, if you like.
From Slow Cooker Vegetarian: Healthy And Wholesome, Comforting And Convenient by Katy Holder (£17.99, Murdoch Books), out now
Celeriac and cashew cream vegan lasagne recipe
Celia Brooks says: “The finished article is reminiscent of veggie lasagne, but the only aspect it shares with the original is the tomato sauce. I have been seduced into an obsession with blended cashew nuts as a substitute for dairy cream, so I reworked a celeriac gratin of mine, using the cashew cream in place of cream and parmesan. I was thrilled with the results. It’s not a diet dish – it’s rich and moreish and it is packed with protein as well as being 100 percent plant based.”
For the cashew cream:
- 200g raw cashew nuts
- 150ml water
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce or tamari (use tamari to make dish gluten-free)
For the tomato sauce:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup (use maple syrup to make dish vegan)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large celeriac (approx. 750g unpeeled weight)
- 2 handfuls of basil leaves
- green salad, to serve (optional)
Boil the kettle. Place the cashews in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Leave to cool and keep them submerged until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush a casserole dish (approx. 20 x 30cm) generously with oil.
Prepare the celeriac. Peel it using a sharp knife and cut away the roots and any muddy deposits, then rinse and pat dry. Cut into about six pieces and slice as thinly as possible. (Alternatively use a food processor with a slicing blade or a mandoline – the thinner the better.)
Make the tomato sauce. Heat a large saucepan (large enough to stir the celeriac into it) over a medium heat and add the olive oil, then the onion, and cook until it is translucent.
Add the garlic and fry for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until sticky.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring to the boil, lower to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning.
Stir the celeriac into the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the celeriac starts to tenderise.
To make the cashew cream, drain the soaked cashews and place in a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend at high speed until completely smooth.
Stir half the cashew cream into the tomato-celeriac mixture. Tear in a handful of basil leaves and stir. Transfer to the casserole dish. Pour the remaining cashew cream over the top and smooth the surface. Decorate with whole basil leaves and finish with a light drizzle of olive oil.
Bake for 30–40 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve right away with a leafy green salad dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette.
The cashew nuts can be soaked up to 24 hours in advance. The lasagne keeps well, portioned and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.
Images: Con Poulos; Louise Hagger/Jonathan Lovekin; Simon Bajada; Alan Benson; Jean Cazals