“Make the lasagna!”
This Lasagna Is a Staple in the Reviews Team's Kitchen. Here's Why.
That’s a common refrain at meetings of the ATK Reviews team. When we’re testing equipment and ingredients, we have to methodically and precisely prepare the same recipe five or six (or even a dozen) times. We strategically pick the recipes for science, yes, but also for the best possible leftovers.
The Cheese and Tomato Lasagna from Cook’s Illustrated Associate Editor Steve Dunn is a team favorite. We look for every chance to make it.
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It’s a clever recipe. Rather than boil the lasagna noodles, you soften them with hot water in a baking dish while you prepare other ingredients. Instead of fussing with a bechamel, you just stir together cottage cheese (stay with me here!), Pecorino Romano, and heavy cream in a bowl.
Using cottage cheese means that the sauce won’t break or curdle, and there’s no risk of scorching. Rich, delicious cheesiness has never been easier.
The lasagna is meatless, and if you nix the anchovies, it’s vegetarian too. There’s also a neat trick about arranging the noodles so that the layers stay together when you slice the lasagna.
Above all, it’s reliable and simple to prepare because when you’re making the same recipe multiple times, you don’t want something complicated.
When Miye Bromberg was testing glass baking dishes, she learned that she preferred baking dishes that were lighter in weight, especially when loaded with lasagna. She prepared five batches of the lasagna (one for each baking dish she was testing) and had a wait list of people who wanted leftovers. Just for the record, that many lasagnas serves 40 people.
When our team was on a quest to find the best cottage cheese, we wanted to see if there were discernable differences in flavor, texture, and quality of cottage cheeses when baked into the lasagna. We had to turn people away from the tasting because it was so popular. When word gets out at work that this lasagna is available, people come quickly.
And when we hadn’t answered all of our questions about the best jarred pasta sauces after sampling all 10 sauces plain and on spaghetti, what did we make? Cheese and Tomato Lasagna, of course.
We substituted jarred pasta sauces for the tomato sauce in the recipe, and it’s a good thing we did. We learned that our favorite sauce, Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce, is thick enough to be a convenient, delicious time-saver, but other sauces will make your lasagna a watery mess.
This Jarred Pasta Sauce Is My Weeknight LifesaverOur winning jarred pasta sauce tastes like it’s been simmering all day but helps me get dinner on the table fast.
The lasagna is a hit outside of work too. I’ve made it for family visiting from out of town. I’ve made it for potlucks with friends. Without fail, someone texts me afterwards and asks for the recipe. Often, it’s someone who says they don’t normally like lasagna, but they can’t stop thinking about this lasagna.
We’re still finalizing our team’s editorial calendar for the next year, but I’m positive we’ll find a way to work our beloved Cheese and Tomato Lasagna into our testing protocols at least once.