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What are the crucial ingredients or cooking techniques to a more solid, or "brick" like lasagna? Most lasagna I've seen tends to get a bit sloppy in the pan as it's being dished out but I have seen lasagna that comes out very firm and solid. Is this due to a certain combination of ingredients, a cooking technique, or both?

For example, I've seen recipes that use cream cheese and eggs instead of ricotta, and various combinations of tomato paste, sauce, and crushed tomatoes. I've also seen various (relatively close - usually 350-375 for 45 minutes to an hour) cooking times.

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6 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I have the same preference. Three things that work for me:

(1) If you are using any vegetables, saute them to get as much liquid out as possible in advance. For spinach or other greens, actually squeeze the water out using a tea towel or potato ricer.

(2) Use less sauce or make the sauce thicker. You can accomplish the latter by starting with thicker ingredients (tomato puree vs. chopped tomatoes), or by reducing it on the stovetop somewhat first.

(3) For ricotta fillings, indeed add a couple of eggs to help them setup.

Here is my spinach and ricotta lasagna recipe, which as you can see from the picture, sets up very firm and sliceable. And I've also got a summer squash and portabello mushroom lasagna which illustrates points 1 and 2.

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I think the key is to let the lasagne sit for a while after it comes out of the oven. This allows it to cool and to absorb some of the liquid. It makes it easier to eat as well, as it doesn't scald you.

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If you're doing a lasagna that starts with cooked noodles, you can try cooking the pasta less. It'll help soak up some of the excess liquid, and in the process become more flavorful, so it's a double win. It's a balancing act, though. If you do a bunch of things to make your lasagna drier, and then also start with raw or barely cooked pasta, you might find you don't have enough free liquid to cook your pasta through in a reasonable amount of time.

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Here is my share -> http://angsarap.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/lasagne-al-forno/ When I remove it from the oven I let it stand for 10 mins to cool down before cutting. The picture in that post is 10 minutes after it was removed from oven not so firm but not sloppy as well

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If you put the ricotta cheese on top of cheese cloth for a few days over a bowl, it'll help get some of the moisture out. This is recommended by Lidia in "Lidia's Italiian-American Kitchen" cookbook.

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The solidness is simply a result of how much liquid is in your recipe. There are a number of ways to take liquid out, but I find the using the no-bake noodles works great, even when using a wet sauce, vegetables, etc.

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