A Perfect Lasagna

Photo of author

By Ketrin Agustine

Serve for Sunday supper now, or parbake and freeze to feed the family later.

A close-up shot shows a portion of lasagna with layers of sauce, noodles and cheese on a white plate.
Christopher Testani for The New York Times

Good morning. At last, it’s oven weather where I stay. I set the thermostat low, put on a sweater under my apron and get to work: a Guinness pie, say, or a braised leg of lamb? Better yet, a perfect lasagna (above).

Regina Schrambling wrote the recipe more than 20 years ago after studying scores of others, suffering defeats, soldiering on and finally achieving perfection. It’s an excellent Sunday project that leads to a lot of food. Don’t worry about leftovers. Once baked, a lasagna can be refrigerated for four days or so.

Or, if you’d like to freeze it, bake the lasagna for 30 minutes but don’t allow it to brown; instead, let it cool, cover it tightly and slide it into the freezer. It’ll last there for a month. (Don’t freeze an unbaked lasagna. It messes with the texture of the pasta.) You should, by the way, be cooking for the freezer all the time!

So that’s Sunday’s supper taken care of — unless of course you’re celebrating Diwali. We have plenty of recipes for the holiday, of course. I hope your day is free of darkness and abundant with light.

As for the rest of the week. …

What a simple, elegant pantry meal is Kay Chun’s tahini-ramen salad filled with chickpeas and sliced vegetables in a savory tahini-and-garlic dressing. Would a dab of chile crisp on top improve matters? Probably. Chile crisp makes better almost everything it touches (including vanilla ice cream, no lie).

This recipe for pork chops in lemon-caper sauce is my favorite in Toni Tipton-Martin’s indispensable cookbook, “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking.” Smothered pork chops, essentially, but dressed to the nines. They deserve a place in your rotation.

Hetty Lui McKinnon’s recipe for stir-fried tofu with ginger is a midweek wonder, simple to make and delicious to consume. If you don’t have a really well-seasoned wok or cast-iron skillet, make it in a nonstick pan to keep the tofu from sticking.

Meals don’t come much more flavorful than Ali Slagle’s spicy slow-roasted salmon with cucumbers and feta. With a crisp exterior brought about by dried chile, fennel and coriander, and a buttery interior that’s offset by plush feta and chopped cucumber, it’s as good served at room temperature as hot from the oven.

And then you can round out the week with another Thanksgiving practice session: Yossy Arefi’s new recipe for a butternut squash and goat cheese galette. Extra points for making your own pie dough, but on a Friday night, you can always substitute store-bought.

Thousands and thousands more recipes are waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. You do, yes, need a subscription to read them. Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. If you have one, thank you. If you don’t, would you please consider taking one out? Thanks!

We’re on our white chairs high above the beach, should you find yourself in a technological rip current. Just write cookingcare@nytimes.com and someone will swim out to get you. Or you can write directly to me if you’d like to lodge a complaint about, or register your approval of, our work. I’m at foodeditor@nytimes.com. I’m sorry that I can’t respond to every letter. I get a lot! But I do read every one I receive.

Now, it’s as far from anything to do with food as Presque Isle, in Maine, is from the arroyos of New Mexico, but you should read Kyle Buchanan’s interview with the actor Nicolas Cage in The Times.

Molly Young’s latest “Read Like the Wind” newsletter, also in The Times, is as close to a successful serendipity machine as anything available on the internet. Sir Edmund Backhouse! Who knew?

Outside magazine resurfaced E. Jean Carroll’s account in 1981 of an event that was equal parts rodeo and beauty pageant, “Cowgirls All the Way.” Worth reading.

Finally, take a look at this new exhibition at the Craig F. Starr Gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, “Edward Hopper as Puritan.” Small but awesome. “Houses on a Hill!” Cook your lasagna as if you live in the close one, facing the sun. I’ll return next week.


Leave a Comment