College Cooking: lasagna

the finished lasagna

Lasagna might be the most classic comfort food. It’s not as hard to make as you’d think, and it’s extremely rewarding. It is very time consuming though – the whole process took me about 2 ½ hours to prep, plus another 1 ½ hours of baking and cooling until it was ready to eat. It’s definitely worth it because not only will there be lots of leftovers, but they are easily reheated in the microwave and you’ll have dinners for a week. Lasagna is also very versatile; you can fill it with anything and it will still taste great. This one is a vegetarian version with lots of healthy vegetables for guilt-free comfort.

When cooking the pasta, the trick is to cook it for about half of the time that the packaging recommends. This will ensure that the noodles don’t overcook in the oven. I suggest that you lay the noodles flat on a baking sheet once you take them out of the water. This will cool them slightly and keep them flat, which will make layering much easier. Also, make sure that there is little to no excess water. Especially when cooking vegetables, it is important to cook off as much water as possible and avoid adding water while cooking.


  • Sauce
    • 2 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
    • 12 ounces red pasta sauce
    • 8 ounces tomato paste
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • One-quarter teaspoon salt
    • One-half teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 1 tablespoon dried basil
    • 6 cloves garlic
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Vegetables
    • 10 ounces spinach
    • 2 zucchinis
    • 1 pound mushrooms
    • 1 medium onion
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup parmesan
    • 2 cups ricotta
    • 1 pound mozzarella
  • 1 ½ 1-pound packages lasagna noodles


  • Lasagna pan (or a large casserole dish)
  • Large saucepan
  • Large sauté pan, preferably with a wide base
  • Wooden spoons
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Optional, baking sheet



  • Crush garlic
  • Mix spices together
  • Add oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium high heat
  • Once hot, add garlic and cook for a minute, stirring constantly to avoid burning
  • Add in spices and cook for another minute, again stirring constantly
  • Lower heat to medium low and add in all of the tomato sauce and pasta sauce
  • Add in tomato paste and stir until everything is incorporated
  • Let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Then, take off the heat and allow to cool until you’re ready to start layering


  • Dice onion and crush garlic
  • Quarter the zucchini and slice
  • Slice mushrooms
  • Add oil to large sauté pan and bring to medium high heat
  • Sauté onions until translucent, add salt and pepper to taste
  • Once the onions are translucent add garlic and cook for about a minute
  • Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook until soft
  • Once soft, start to add spinach and cook until all of the spinach is added
  • Take off heat and allow to cool until layering


  • In a bowl, beat together the two eggs.
  • Add parmesan and ricotta
  • Mix until combined and set aside until layering.

Layering the lasagna

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and liberally salt.
  • Once at a rolling boil, add pasta; this might need to be done in two or more batches depending on the size of the pot
  • Cook for 6-7 minutes, about half recommended time, you want them to be undercooked.
  • Remove from pot and rinse with cool water
  • Lay lasagna noodles flat on a baking sheet before layering
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • In a 9×13.5-inch lasagna dish start layering
  • Start with a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan
  • Add a layer of noodles
  • Add a layer of one-third to one-half of the cheese mixture on the noodles and mozzarella
  • Lay another layer of noodles in the opposite direction
  • Add a layer of sauce and vegetables
  • Add another layer of pasta
  • Repeat layering until the pan is full or use up all the fillings
  • With the last layer of noodles on top, add sauce to cover
  • Cover the top with the last of the mozzarella and parmesan
  • Cover the entire pan with aluminum foil
  • Place in preheated oven and cook for 60 minutes
  • After 60 minutes, remove tinfoil and bake for another 15 minutes
  • Take out of the oven and let rest for 20 -30 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy!

Photos provided by Eliot Gentiluomo/the Watchdog.