Not-So-Basic Lasagna – A Zesty Twist On The Classic Dish


This Not-So-Basic Lasagna started as a stuffed shells recipe I found in a cookbook from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.

While this is a pretty basic recipe, there’s a little kick of flavor that really makes the dish POP. One of the things I love about cooking is you can always add things or take things away to make something entirely new. The most basic recipe can turn into something that tastes completely different.

Like lasagna, for example. When most people think of lasagna, it’s the same old recipe. Familiar. Expected.

This recipe is neither familiar nor expected.

You get a richness and creaminess from the ricotta, a light and citrus pop from the lemon zest, and a little kick in the end from the red pepper flakes.

Overall, it’s a delicious and unexpected take on a classic dish… A not-so-basic lasagna, after all.


1 package of ready-to-use lasagna noodles
1 28 oz can of crushed red tomatoes
1 14 oz can of crushed red tomatoes
4 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 15 oz ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 bunch of chives, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. First you want to make the sauce. Takes a sauce pan and combine olive oil, garlic, red pepper flake and sea salt before turning burner on. Turn on to medium heat and stir for about 45 seconds until you can smell the flavors.
  3. Add in tomatoes and stir until well combined. Cook that at a simmer for about 1 to 2 minutes. Take off stove and salt to taste.
  4. To make the filling you need to add the ricotta cheese to a medium size bowl. Beat egg and pour into the mixture.
  5. Add salt, lemon zest, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 3/4 of the bunch of chives.
  6. Take a 13 x 9 pan and spread 1/3 of the sauce along the bottom. Now start to layer: I take the noodles and line the bottom of the pan, then I spread on the cheese mixture and add some sauce. (There is no exact measurement but you want to try and do even layers – and make sure there is enough or multiple layers.) The order will be: noodles, cheese, sauce. Make sure you reserve about 1/4 cup of the sauce to put on the top.
  7. After all the layers are done, add the remaining sauce.
  8. In a small bowl mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and the 1/2 cup of Parmesan reggiano.
  9. Top lasagna with the cheese mixture (and chives, if you like).
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 30 min. Uncover, then bake for another 15 min.
  11. Enjoy!

Special Notes:

A couple ways to change up this recipe are to brown some Italian sausage and put into the sauce or add some different cheeses (Pecorino, Romano, etc.)

Either way, I can’t wait to hear what you think when you try it!

Adapted from: 101 Cookbooks


EMILY NESS is a full-time food and lifestyle author who’s passionate about developing simple yet mouth-watering recipes that anyone can make. Since founding her website in 2013, she’s went on to share her passion for cooking healthy and tasty recipes with the thousands of people around the world.
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Sharing a passion for food and fitness to live a healthy lifestyle - with the occasional hint of chocolate.