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Ricotta lasagna refers to just about any kind of lasagna that uses ricotta cheese as one of the main ingredients, typically as part of the filling between layers of pasta. There are a number of ways in which ricotta can be used in making lasagna, though it is often combined with other ingredients such as parmesan cheese and spinach. Ricotta lasagna then typically includes a sauce and is assembled through a series of alternating sheets of pasta, covered with the sauce and the ricotta filling.
There are many ways in which someone can make lasagna, and ricotta lasagna is merely one popular version. Any type of lasagna typically begins with the pasta, which usually consist of long, fairly wide sheets of pasta that are boiled until pliable. These are not usually fully cooked to keep the pasta from becoming overcooked during baking. As the pasta itself is being prepared, the filling should be made so that both are ready together.
Different recipes and preparations can call for a wide range of ingredients to be used in the filling for ricotta lasagna, though ricotta cheese is usually the fundamental ingredient. Ricotta is a soft cheese with a consistency somewhat similar to cottage cheese. Other cheeses are often added to the ricotta, such as parmesan, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mozzarella. Shredded spinach can also be added to the ricotta mixture, which adds nice color and breaks up some of the heavy creaminess of the cheeses.
Lasagna, including ricotta lasagna, typically includes a sauce as well. Red sauce made from tomatoes is quite common and usually includes ground sausage or other meat. A white sauce, such as a béchamel, can be used instead, through this may become too creamy or heavy with a ricotta filling.
Ricotta lasagna is then typically prepared by assembling these different ingredients and layers together in a casserole or similar dish. This usually begins with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom, followed by a layer of the pasta sheets. Another bit of sauce goes onto this, topped with some of the filling spread across the pasta, and then another layer of pasta. The process is repeated until the ricotta lasagna is assembled and then baked until fully cooked through and the various cheeses melt and coalesce into a finished dish.