If spending eight months living in Italy taught me anything, it was how to fully experience the joy of eating. Of Italy’s 20 magnificent regions, I experienced the gastronomical nuances of eight, each boasting their own delicious take on traditional dishes and flavors.
But of the seemingly infinite number of pasta dishes that exist throughout Italy, lasagna has maintained a special place in my heart—and stomach. Eating lasagna triggers fond memories of my childhood, gathered around the kitchen table for a meal prepared by my crazy Sicilian grandmother. Good times.
Traditional lasagna is wonderful, but sometimes you need to break from the norm—so I've compiled a list of tasty, non-traditional lasagna recipes that you'll want to make ASAP. My Nonna would have likely thrown a wooden spoon at me for calling these recipes "lasagna" (see Breakfast Lasagna), but what fun would life be without bending the rules every now and then?
1. Taco Lasagna
I envision this recipe by Jo Cooks going over very well with my friends. The recipe is perfect for dinner parties, as this filling lasagna contains around 8 servings. Pair it with a fine margarita and you are good to go.
2. Breakfast Lasagna
Breakfast meets dinner in this dream recipe by Food Done Good combining sweet, syrupy french toast with layers of scrambled egg and hash browns. This is a pretty heavy deviation from the classic saucy lasagna, but who wouldn’t want to try this on a Sunday morning?
3. Pistachio Pesto and Prosciutto Lasagna
Mixing pistachios into pesto sauce is a tip I picked up in Sicily. You can buy pistachio pesto pre-made at Italian specialty food stores, but it can set you back quite a bit, costing up to $10-$15 for a tiny jar. If you have a blender or a food processor, it's easy to blend in the pistachios yourself. Beware: After trying this recipe by The Garum Factory most likely never want to eat regular pesto again.
4. Pumpkin & Sage-Infused Béchamel Lasagna
Pumpkin spiced… lasagna? Yes. Pumpkin actually compliments cream sauces and various cheeses quite nicely— a culinary trick I learned in Tuscany while eating with my host family. My host mother served a pasta dish that had a thick, orange sauce mixed in, which I later learned was ricotta and pumpkin. It was surprisingly delicious, just like this recipe by Goboroot.
5. Raw Zucchini & Avocado Pesto Lasagna
Avocado pesto has completely changed my life. Although this dish by One Green Planet is beautifully vegan, there are ways to alter the recipe to reflect a more traditional lasagna. Replace (or simply add) lasagna noodles to the recipe, replace the cashew cheese with ricotta and parmesan cheese, and you could even add crispy pancetta to the layers if you'd like. I would also suggest making the avocado pesto in a blender or a food processor.
6. Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
This lasagna recipe by Julia's Album was sent to me by my boss, who swears it is one of the best recipes she has ever replicated in her kitchen. Much like pumpkin, butternut squash works very well with cream sauces and cheese. Just when you thought you ran out of ways to cook this autumnal crop, this lasagna recipe sweeps in to steal the show.
7. Salmon Asparagus Lasagna
Inspired by my favorite pasta dish in the entire world made by my Sicilian aunt using cream sauce and smoked salmon, this lasagna by Living Sweet Moments speaks to my soul in a way that others can’t. I would suggest throwing some smoked salmon into this recipe to give the lasagna a deeper flavor profile.
8. Wild Mushroom Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce
I’m definitely not alone in loving béchamel sauce to the point where I’d happily drizzle it over anything. It works perfectly as a binding element in this simple but delicious lasagna by Delallo.
9. Cheesy Seafood Lasagna
Again, seafood in a lasagna may seem a little unusual, but trust me when I say that creamy seafood is heaven on this earth. In this decadent lasagna by The Cookie Rookie, you can incorporate your favorite “frutti di mare” or fruits of the sea. Chances are you’ll finish the entire pan in a night.
10. White Chocolate Blueberry Lasagna
Now, as my Sicilian grandmother would declare at the end of every meal, “What’s for dessert?!” Keep the theme going with this colorful, no-bake dessert lasagna by OMG Chocolate Desserts. Oh—and that beautiful purple layer? It’s made with pulverized freeze-dried blueberries. Genius.