Lasagna: The Versatile Pasta

Butternut squash, spinach, seafood―lasagnas are delicious any way you like them.

The mere mention of lasagna can send most people into super-duper craving mode: It's comforting, rich, and hearty. But can light, low-fat versions fit the bill? Sure they can. Consider spinach tortellini, pasta primavera, fettuccine Alfredo, even macaroni and cheese. So the leap to lasagna isn't a very big one.

Plus, it's easy to make. Virtually any kind of filling can be sandwiched between those sheets of pasta: meat, beans, eggplant, artichoke hearts, vegetable medleys, cheese―you name it. And it's an ideal make-ahead entrée.

If you're a traditionalist who says, "It's not lasagna if it doesn't have rippled pasta," then the new flat, no-boil noodles, recommended in half of the following recipes, might take some getting used to. But go ahead and try them―they have a fresh-pasta taste and work so beautifully that you might not miss the ripples at all. Be sure to read the package directions carefully, and resist your urge to precook the noodles, though; treating them as you do the traditional ripply stuff will only turn them to mush.

For a big pan―to serve a hungry bunch―we used regular lasagna noodles and precooked them before layering. But the no-boil noodles, which are smaller, are the perfect size for a small-family supper and possibly even a couple of spectacularly good lunches the next day. Feel free, though, to use either type of noodle interchangeably. For the large-pan recipes, use more no-boil noodles in each layer to cover your fillings adequately. Likewise, use fewer precooked noodles for the smaller recipes.

Our challenge was to come up with a range of renditions that meet our healthy standards without cheating you of what's truly luxe in lasagnas. Some of these are hearty; some are more subtle. But all give you that deeply satisfying feeling you get only from lasagna.

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