Lasagne made with packaged noodles, cheese, and tomato-meat sauce is probably the most familiar layered pasta, but by no means the only one, as you will discover in this section. The steps and recipes that follow clearly demonstrate that layered pasta is a whole category of tempting recipes, not just a single dish.
The ingredients make the difference; the technique varies only slightly. Each is a construction of pasta and filling, with every layer contrasting yet complementing the others. Each is assembled in an ovenproof dish and baked until piping hot from top to bottom. All are hearty, satisfying, and good for casual company meals because they can be prepared in advance and reheated.
Lasagne Verdi (see our recipe) is a classic dish made with fresh or dried spinach noodles. Salmon Lasagne with Roasted Pepper Sauce (see recipe) dispenses with meat altogether to showcase a cornucopia of vegetables. Three recipes use shaped pasta rather than flat sheets: Four Seasons Pasta Pie (see recipe) has a spaghetti "crust," while both Greek-inspired Pastitsio (see recipe) and Spicy Sausage & Corn Pasta (see recipe) include macaroni.
Cutting Fresh Lasagne Noodles
Let the rolled fresh dough rest for about 20 minutes to dry slightly. Trim each piece to a large rectangle, as specified in the recipe. With a fluted pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut each rectangle into even strips, using a ruler as a guide.
Setting the Noodles Aside
If necessary, trim the strips further to the size specified in the recipe. Place the strips on slightly damp kitchen towels so they won’t overdry while you are cutting the remaining rectangles of dough. After cooking the noodles, place them on the towels to keep them from sticking together.
Assembling the Dish
Cover the bottom of the dish with a little sauce to keep the noodles from sticking to the pan. Top with noodles, more sauce, and grated cheeses. Add the next layer of noodles. With a metal spatula, spread ricotta cheese or filling evenly across the noodles.
Sprinkling with Cheese
Arrange a layer of noodles over the filling. Spoon on the remaining sauce and spread to cover the pasta. Finish layering by sprinkling with the remaining cheeses.