Why might you have a need for making some recipes in individually-sized portions, like this super flavorful and rich lasagna?
Other than the added convenience, well, I admit that I have no self control when it comes to certain foods.
Queso, for example, is one of those dishes that I prefer not to share in public. No matter how much self-restraint I try to exhibit, I somehow seemingly float outside of my body and become a complete monster when it’s on the table.
Case in point: my dinner companions once decided on the jalapeno-spiked vat of cheese for our appetizer and I hesitantly declined to share – only to then grant myself several chips, which escalated to scraping the bottom of the bowl with my bare fingers and struggling to rub the smooth, white dip off the sleeves of my friend’s sweatshirt I had borrowed that day.
I think you get the picture. (No, really. Sorry you had to picture that.)
My point is this: there are some things better served in single-size portions.
If you’ve got a raging sweet tooth, I assume you might feel this way about cakes, brownies, and pints of ice cream. Speaking from the perspective of someone who swoons over all things savory, I have a hard time regulating myself around massive amounts of mac and cheese, queso (clearly), and of course, lasagna.
Though any leftovers of this Italian classic freeze like a champ, I find it nearly impossible to not go back for several helpings. Not to mention that you get to choose what size square you want on your plate when it’s served in the usual fashion, and if it happens to be as big as your head, hey, you still only had one piece!
Am I right?
That’s why certain comfort foods morphed into miniaturized form are a genius move in my book, and that’s where these individual lasagne come into play. So, let’s play with our pasta.
I believe it was the great writer Shakespeare who once claimed, “though they may be but little, they are fierce,” or something like that.
He was completely talking about these lasagne.
Since they’re pre-portioned for you, you don’t have to worry about going back for sevenths because you’ve already technically eaten an entire lasagna yourself.
There also aren’t many components to this dish, another of the many qualities that make it wonderful.
As the rich, fatty beef snuggles up into the sauce, the hints of fresh basil perfume the meat layer with an herbaceous zing.
Sharp, salty parmesan elevates light, lovely ricotta cheese’s mild-mannered nature and the stringy mozzarella on top gives you that oh-so-decadent cheese pull we’re all after for our Instagram posts. (And be sure to tag those posts with #EatFoodal when you make this, by the way!)
I find picking the crispy bits off the inside of the ramekin to be the most joyful part of enjoying these pre-portioned beauties, but they slide right out of their containers and can be plated up like pros all the same. Pair with a simple side salad, your beverage of choice, and a weeknight rom com.
As an added bonus, thanks to the folding of the noodles that I’m about to explain, you don’t have to worry about meat sauce spilling out onto your pants.
Hey, I may be messy, but I make a mean individual lasagna.Print
- Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
Keep those crispy top edges all to yourself with these flavor-packed individual lasagne loaded with fluffy ricotta cheese and juicy beef.
- 8 lasagna noodle sheets (not the no-boil kind)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80/20)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups store-bought marinara sauce (or Golden Tomato Sauce)
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, gently torn, divided
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside, being careful to make sure the sheets don’t stick together.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Add the ground beef. Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt, the black pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until the beef is browned and the onions are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the marinara sauce and half of the basil. Reduce the heat to simmer for an additional 5-8 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, 8 tablespoons of the parmesan, and the remaining salt.
- Spray 4 6-ounce ramekins with cooking oil spray and place them on a baking sheet. Place one lasagna noodle across each ramekin so that the middle of the noodle is in the middle of the ramekin. Repeat by placing another noodle crosswise in each ramekin so it is arranged at a 90° angle perpendicular to the first.
- Add about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture to each ramekin and then dollop with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta-parmesan blend. Fold each side of the bottommost noodle over the cheese, and then repeat this process in each ramekin with one more layer of meat and cheese before folding over the other noodle to cover the top.
- Top the bare noodle layer of each with even amounts of the remaining meat mixture, the ricotta-parmesan blend, and the mozzarella.
- Sprinkle each lasagna with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan and then drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 15-18 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes and then either serve directly from the ramekins, or run a sharp paring knife along the inside and gently lift the lasagne onto plates.
- Evenly garnish each with the remaining basil and parmesan cheese before serving.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: lasagna, pasta, tomato sauce
Step 1 – Cook the Noodles and Chop the Aromatics
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna sheets according to the package directions. This is typically going to take between 11 and 15 minutes.
Drain in a colander and set aside, making sure the sheets of pasta don’t stick together. You can spray the noodles with cooking spray or drizzle them with olive oil to keep them from sticking.
Chop the onions and garlic. Gently tear or chop the basil.
Step 2 – Saute the Beef and Add the Sauce
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute, and then add the ground beef.
Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt, the black pepper, and the red pepper flakes.
Cook, stirring often, until the beef is browned and the onions are softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the marinara sauce and half of the basil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for an additional 5-8 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Step 3 – Make the Ricotta Mixture
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, 8 tablespoons of the parmesan, and the remaining salt.
For additional flavor, you can add other aromatics in this step if you want, like minced garlic, fresh oregano, or dried Italian seasoning from your spice rack.
Step 4 – Assemble the Lasagne
Spray 4 6-ounce ramekins with cooking spray and place them on a baking sheet.
Place one lasagna noodle across each ramekin so that the middle of the noodle is in the middle of the ramekin. Repeat by placing another noodle crosswise in each ramekin so it’s at a 90-degree angle from the first.
The noodles may slip around a bit when they’re in the ramekins by themselves, but once you add the meat, everything will stay in place.
Add about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture to each ramekin, and then dollop with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta-parmesan blend.
Fold each side of the bottommost noodle over to cover the cheese, smushing it down in the ramekin a bit if necessary so it sits flat.
Repeat this process in each ramekin with one more layer of meat and cheese and the other noodle. You will end up with a bare noodle on top of each individual lasagna, which you’ll then top with even amounts of the remaining meat mixture, ricotta-parmesan blend, and mozzarella.
Sprinkle each individual lasagna with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan and then drizzle evenly with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. The oil will help the cheese to brown.
Step 5 – Bake, Rest, Garnish, and Serve
Bake until golden brown and bubbly, for about 15 to 18 minutes.
Remove from the oven to cool for at least 5 minutes, and then either serve directly from the ramekins, or run a sharp paring knife along the inside and gently lift the lasagne onto plates.
Garnish each with the remaining basil and grated parmesan cheese.
Mini Me(at) Casseroles
Something about these meaty casseroles being individually sized makes me feel like I can stop at just one – which, let’s be honest, is a lasagna miracle.
I make all four at once, slip them out of their serving dishes, wrap in them in foil, and toss them in the freezer for a quick homemade Italian dinner later in the week that’s ready in no time.
Feel free to go halfsies on ground beef and sausage instead of just the beef, for an unctuous boost of flavor. And if you can’t wrangle up enough ramekins, a muffin tin will do the trick – just remember to go easy on each portion so your cups don’t runneth over.
Noodles and cheese and other things, oh my! Do you love everything pasta? Lose yourself in these alternative lasagna recipes next:
For double trouble, I get extra saucy and sub one layer of the red sauce with velvety bechamel. You can thank me later.
What are your lasagna secrets? Share your tasty tricks in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published September 7, 2010. Last updated on May 23, 2021.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”