Loaf Pan Lasagna

Cooking for TwoCasseroleFreezer-friendlyItalian

This small-batch weeknight lasagna comfortably serves two and is ready in half the time as a larger batch. Loaf Pan Lasagna is layered with chunky pieces of sausage and rustic-but-quick tomato sauce.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas | Banner Art Credit: Elena Resko

Lasagna on a weeknight? Tell me more!

You don’t need to invite an entire soccer team over to have a reason to make this cheesy lasagna with chunky sausage and a rustic tomato sauce. I’ve downsized the mega-version of lasagna, thanks to my new best friend: the loaf pan!

This Loaf Plan Lasagna is the perfect small-batch size to feed one, two, or three people.

We all know lasagna is comfort food that comes with a hefty time and labor price tag and a big pan to wash. But consider a Wednesday, when you really need to get over that hump, and you only have about 30 minute to prepare dinner. Economy of scale in this case means fewer minutes at the stove and manageable leftovers. Sounds like a win-win in my book!

Horizontal image of baked loaf pan lasagna with sausage on a wooden paddle shaped cutting board. A wooden spoon is to the left as well as two glass tumblers of white wine. A small wooden bowl of lettuce is in the upper right hand corner. In the lower right hand corner sits a stack of white plates and two forks in partial view.

HOW TO MAKE LOAF PAN LASAGNA

This recipe for Loaf Pan Lasagna makes two big servings for very hungry people, but really closer to three normal servings, so there’s a nice little leftover in the fridge for next day’s lunch.

A loaf pan size lasagna is just like a big one with a smaller volume of ingredients. You layer the ingredients in much the same way, and the baking time is close to the same. Where you really save time with this dish is on the prep time. Making the components takes less time and effort because of its small size.

To prepare it, just sauté some ground Italian sausage (I use chicken sausage links and remove the casing, but you can use pork or turkey if you’d rather). Add the sausage to an easy, tasty tomato sauce; mix up some ricotta with Parmesan, and then layer everything in the loaf pan with no-boil noodles. What’s not to like about that?

Top it off with a little more cheese and bake for 40 minutes. It’s not instant lasagna, but for this homemade favorite, it’s pretty close.

Vertical view of small batch lasagna with a piece missing inside the glass loaf pan. Behind is a stack of white plates with the slice of lasagna on top. Two tumblers and a small bowl of lettuce are visible at the top of the image.

HOW TO MAKE CHUNKY TOMATO SAUCE

I make my favorite go-to tomato sauce with whole canned tomatoes, so I don’t have to have too many different types of canned tomatoes on hand. I also think whole canned tomatoes are softer and taste fresher than diced or pureed tomatoes.

If I buy the really good ones (San Marzano, from Italy), they break down in the pan with a potato masher—just right for a rustic style sauce. However, some brands of tomatoes are fairly firm and need some help.

Once you open the can, use a large pair of scissors and get right in there to snip and “chop.” You are just trying to break them up into medium-size pieces and contain them in the can so they don’t spurt all over. Once you heat them in the pan, you can break them up even more with a potato masher.

If you simply must have smooth sauce, then puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender and simmer with the sausage. But for this recipe, I like the chunky sauce with the sausage.

Horizontal view of white plate with slice of small batch lasagna and garnished with chopped parsley. A partial view of the baked lasagna in the glass pan is to the right of the plate. Above the plate to the left is a small bowl of lettuce and a tumbler. A fork is on the left of the plate.

TIPS TO MAKE AHEAD, STORE AND FREEZE

  • To make one day ahead: Assemble the lasagna and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap. Bake as directed, adding five to 10 minutes to the baking time.
  • To freeze for up to three months: Assemble the lasagna and cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze. Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Remove plastic wrap and foil and place foil loosely over the top. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for about one hour. Remove foil tent and continue baking 10 to 15 minutes, until lasagna is bubbling and cheese is browned.
  • To reheat leftovers: Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot all the way through. A quick zap in the microwave also works for individual servings.

MORE COOKING FOR TWO RECIPES

Loaf Pan Lasagna for Two Recipe Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Italian chicken sausages (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • Oil or oil spray (for the loaf pan)
  • 4 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

For garnish:

  • Chopped parsley

Method

1 Cook the sausage: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Either slice the sausage into rounds or remove the casing from the sausage by slicing lengthwise down the side and cook it like ground sausage.

When the oil shimmers, add the sausage to the pan, and cook for about 6 minutes or until browned. Use a cooking utensil to break the sausage up as you cook it. Transfer to a plate.

2 Snip the tomatoes: Open the can of tomatoes and use a large pair of scissors to snip and break them up in the can into chunky pieces. You will mash them a little more in the skillet.

3 Make the sauce: In the same skillet you used to brown the sausage, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds, or until the garlic sizzles. Add the tomatoes with their juices, salt, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce is hot.

Use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces (this is easiest to do when tomatoes soften in the heat). You are aiming for a chunky sauce.

Add the sausage back to the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and sugar, if you like.

A skillet is filled with chunky tomato sauce and sliced italian sausage.

4 Make the ricotta mixture: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir the egg, ricotta, Parmesan, nutmeg, and pepper together.

Small glass bowl with ricotta, parmesan, spices and an egg inside. A small glass bowl with grated parmesan and ricotta inside.

5 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush or spray a 4x8-inch loaf pan with oil.

6 Assemble the lasagna: In the bottom of the loaf pan, ladle about 1/2 cup tomato-sausage sauce. Top with 1 noodle. Spread with 1/2 cup sauce, and then spread 1/3 mounded cup of the ricotta mixture over it.

Place a second noodle on top of the sauce. Spread 1/3 mounded cup ricotta mixture over it, and top with 1/2 cup tomato-sausage sauce.

Place a third noodle on top of the sauce. Spread with remaining ricotta and spoon 1/2 cup tomato-sausage sauce over it, using up all of the remaining sausage pieces in this layer.

Place a fourth noodle on top of the sauce and spoon the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.

A lasagna noodle is atop chunky tomato sauce and sliced sausage in a glass loaf pan. A glass loaf pan with ricotta cheese dotted on top sliced sausage and tomato sauce in a glass loaf pan for small batch lasagna. A glass loaf pan with uncooked noodle resting on top the layers of noodles, cheese and tomato sauce. Unbaked loaf pan lasagna with sausage in a glass loaf pan sitting on top a baking sheet.

6 Bake the lasagna: Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet. Fold a large piece of foil in half and fold it in half again. Make a tent over the loaf pan (so it does not stick to the cheese.) Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil tent. Check to see if the lasagna is uneven or if it peaks in the middle. If it’s uneven, use the back of a spoon to press the top layer lightly to make it level in the loaf pan and submerge the noodles in the sauce.

Turn the oven down to 375°F. Return lasagna to the oven and continue to bake for 15 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese is golden brown. (If you like stretchy rather than browned cheese, check after 10 minutes.)

Tented foil covering small batch lasagna on a baking sheet. Overhead view of small batch lasagna baked in a glass loaf pan and sitting on a baking sheet.

7 To serve: Allow the lasagna to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if you like.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

More from Sally

7 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Harmony

    First time I am making lasagna ever. Thanks for the recipe. I didn’t do it exactly like you and I don’t eat meat but the loaf pan and the meal for one or two was a perfect recipe for me. Thank you

  2. Ginny

    I have been making my own loaf pan lasagna with a few helpful shortcuts. I buy 2 or 3 store made meatballs and 2 slices of mozzarella at the deli counter. I slice the meatballs and use them with sauce in one layer and use the sliced cheese for the final layer with more sauce. So I eliminate the sausage step.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Sandy S.

    Sally, Thank you for this Cooking for Two recipe and the Acorn stuffed with Turkey recipe! They are both winners! Taste great and so nice to have recipes that yield the right amount for 1-2 people. Will look forward to using both recipes often!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Gretchen

    Delicious and easy!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Brenda

    Can you use zoodels instead from a zucchini?

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Horizontal view of white plate with slice of small batch lasagna and garnished with chopped parsley. A partial view of the baked lasagna in the glass pan is to the right of the plate. Above the plate to the left is a small bowl of lettuce and a tumbler. A fork is on the left of the plate.Loaf Pan Lasagna