I'm not gonna lie: recipe development is a pretty fantastic job, but it does come with a couple of unexpected downsides. First and foremost? Having to eat the same dish over and over and over again. Take, for example, the recent spinach lasagna I made. There's only so much lasagna you can eat in one sitting, and when you've made over half a dozen of them over the course of a few days, you end up with a lot of leftovers (no matter how graciously your friends accept those care packages). The worst part? Lasagna is one of those foods that simply doesn't reheat well.
Like macaroni and cheese, once it cools and sits overnight, the pasta absorbs liquid from the sauce. What was once a nice loose casserole with creamy sauce and al dente pasta turns into a solid, semi-dry mass with the texture of overly firm custard and no distinct layers, even after reheating it.
It's not the most appetizing thing in the world.
So what is the best way to reheat lasagna? I took a cue from New York chef Mark Ladner and the "Yesterday's 100 Layer Lasagna alla Piastra" they serve at Del Posto.
For that dish, Ladner purposely lets his traditional Lasagna Bolognese rest over night before slicing it into thin slabs and searing the cut faces in a skillet. The result is something that may even beat the original lasagna in terms of pure deliciousness with plenty of crispy edges a hot, tender, gooey center.
To do it at home, I start the same way he does: by slicing up leftover lasagna into slabs.
While Ladner's lasagna has layer upon layer upon layer, most home lasagnas are a little more modest. Even with the 12 layers in my spinach lasagna, the slabs need a little help height-wise. To solve this issue. I just take two slabs and press them against each other with their tops touching.
Even if they don't stick together perfectly, they end up fusing together as they sear.
Into a moderately hot skillet with a bit of oil they go (you'll want to use either cast iron or another non-stick skillet for this process). As the pasta slabs cook, cheese very slowly oozes out from between the central layers, forming lacy, crisp browned bits that fuse together with the pasta layers, binding the whole thing into a solid sheet.
Serve the seared lasagna with a little sauce to moisten it up.
Wanna get even more fun? You can use the exact same method to turn your leftover lasagna into fancy-pants hors d'oeuvres for your next dinner party. Instead of stacking two layers, cut your lasagna slabs into roughly square pieces, trimming off the edges. Lay those squares on their sides, then secure the lasagna layers with a wooden skewer inserted through them.
Fry the slabs just as before (with the sticks still in them—a shallow pan or flat top is the best tool for this), then serve them on warmed platter with some extra sauce for dipping.
Will it Waffle?
An oh, ok fine, let's go ahead and waffle this lasagna while we're at it, shall we?
I've spent a good deal of time trying to answer the question "will it waffle?" here on the site. I'm happy to report that leftover lasagna does waffle, and it does it with style and grace.
Let's talk crisp edges for a minute, because my lasagna waffle has one or two things to say on the matter.