Homemade lasagna is a weekend cooking project if there ever was one. All the sauces and fillings and layering…dear god, it makes a person want to take to their bed immediately (especially me – a person who is already always looking for a mandatory reason to return to bed). But you know which weekends were just made for cooking projects? All the ones in January. What else are you doing? Slowly watching as one tiny thread at a time starts snapping and popping from the rope that represents your new year’s resolutions? Better distract yourself with food.
I debated offering three lasagna recipes for this post, knowing what the first two would be but contemplating any one of the many very good lasagna recipes that linger in my pasta files as the possible third. In the end, I decided to keep it simpler (more time for my one true love: bed) by presenting a classic meat lasagna and an updated vegetarian lasagna. The meat version, Bon Appetit’s professed “Best”, is a masterpiece of layers upon layers of criminally flavourful slow-braised bolognese sauce alternating with pasta and parmesan-smacked béchamel. The vegetarian rendition is a way way back potluck standard of mine that has entranced colleagues and classmates with its sticky braised squash, toasted hazelnuts, and justifiably wonderful quantities of mozzarella cheese. Both probably constitute “projects” in most people’s eyes, certainly the BA version, which requires you to slow-braise meatballs that you rolled only to later smash (sounds ridiculous, I know, but it makes sense when you’re doing it, trust me). Both yield the pay-off of an edible project, which is to say, both are show-stoppingly delicious and capable of earning you the status of the person who only ever brings “THAT lasagna!” to potlucks and group dinners.