A Loaf Pan Is Perfect For Personalized Lasagna In A Pinch

Lasagna on a plate with tomatoes
Lasagna on a plate with tomatoes - Tatiana Bralnina/Shutterstock

Lasagna. Love songs could be written to this cheesy, saucy, layered masterpiece of culinary engineering. How so many wonderful things can be packed into a single square (or rectangle or roll) is beyond imagination. In a restaurant, watching that perfect savory structure pass by on a server's tray could make anyone float through the air like a cartoon in pursuit. But making lasagna at home has so many advantages, too. It's an ideal make-ahead meal. You can prep and freeze it in advance, making weeknight dinners a breeze without sacrificing quality.

But if you're a solo diner, are cooking for a small family or group of friends, or you didn't quite get ahead of a craving in time to whip up a full-blown lasagna recipe, there's a great strategy for putting together a more compact serving quickly. While many recipes call for a 13-by-9 casserole dish, you can achieve a personalized lasagna by using a classic loaf pan. Beyond the more manageable size, switching to a smaller pan will benefit both the texture and flavor of the finished dish.

Read more: 8 Baking Sheet Mistakes You Want To Avoid

Tips For Layering Your Loaf Pan Lasagna

Lasagna ingredients on a table
Lasagna ingredients on a table - OlgaBombologna/Shutterstock

This scaled-down iteration of the classic family-style meal is perfect for just a few servings. It's ideal for a romantic date night, or just to celebrate yourself (and have a little left over). Aside from the baking vessel used, it's not much different from your standard classic lasagna recipe. You'll layer ingredients in the loaf pan as you would if you were making a full-size casserole, and your timing will vary slightly depending on whether your pasta sheets are pre-cooked, but you're looking at about 20 to 40 minutes until you have bubbly, browning cheese and an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

To simplify extracting your lasagna from the loaf pan later on, break out the aluminum foil. By lining the pan (being sure to really tuck those corners in on all four sides), you can easily use the foil as leverage to lift out your finished product after baking. Just remember to let your lasagna cool for a bit so that the cheese and sauce have a chance to set up — this way, you won't wind up with a saucy, gooey mess.

Other fun bonuses of this preparation? You get some impressive height, similar to the way some restaurants serve theirs in towering squares. It also ensures that you have crisp edges on every slice. You can make this up to three days in advance, or freeze if you think it'll be a bit longer before you break into it.

Customizing Your Personalized Lasagna

Lasagna with side salad
Lasagna with side salad - Jerome.Romme/Shutterstock

Beyond all the advantages already listed, this preparation is fun because it allows you to make more lasagna more often and change it up for any craving or occasion. You can keep it classic with a buttery white sauce in addition to your ragu, opt for a leaner protein with turkey lasagna, or even lean into St. Patrick's Day vibes with a corned beef version. Seafood makes for a fun spin, as with a luxurious lobster and Alfredo iteration. Breakfast lasagna, brimming with eggs and bacon, would make for an impactful brunch centerpiece. And of course, you can keep it vegetarian-friendly by baking up a loaf of pumpkin kale lasagna.

On the side, a simple salad is the perfect complement for a lighter contrast with your rich and warm pasta dish. A classic Italian assemblage with red onion and tomato is an obvious match, or something a bit bolder like spinach salad with tangerine-rosemary vinaigrette brightens up your table's spread. Whether you're making your loaf pan lasagna for a small group or simply serving yourself, you'll have plenty to keep your palate interested and your cravings satisfied.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.