family dinner

Lasagne Lattice Pie

Lasagne Lattice Pie

It’s Pie Season.

I guess pie is always in season, but right now it’s pie with crust season. I’ve never been a dessert pie lover, other than my mom’s apple pie, or a summer fruit pie with an oat and brown sugar crumble top. But the idea of working with my hands to make a pie and craft the top was definitely appealing. I got the idea to make Lasagne Lattice Pie just as I was falling asleep one night, and I’ve been trying my hand at it regularly since.

My family has eaten a ton of lasagne lately! We’ve now reached the point where two things have happened; First, my kids have let it be known that they’ve had their fill of lasagne for a while. And second (and most importantly) the recipe and the process are done and where we all love it!

Here I’ve used lasagne sheets that I sliced into thick ribbons. I didn’t even know that I could buy lasagne sheets like this, actually. I went to a local market that sells their own fresh pasta and requested it. It didn’t seem like an unusual request, so clearly I haven’t been in the ‘lasagne know’ until now! I bought two pounds of it and started experimenting.

Lasagne Lattice Pie

First I made a sauce. My absolute favorite non-summer tomato sauce is simple as can be. All you need is:

1 28 ounce can of tomatoes (see the note below)
2 small cloves of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Pepper to taste
Red chili flakes (optional, to taste)

Heat a sauce pan to medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Bring the heat back up to medium high and add the chopped garlic. Let them get a slight sear on one side and turn the heat down to medium. Slowly add the tomatoes, including all juices. Adjust the heat down if this continues to splatter. Stir to combine, with the salt. Let that cook together for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and continue to cook on low for another 10 minutes. Serve with pepper or chili flakes.
Note: I love to use whole, unseasoned canned tomatoes. When this sauce has finished cooking, I give it a few pulses with my hand blender to get it to my desired consistency. If I can’t find those, I use unseasoned pureed or strained tomatoes.

So back to that Lattice Lasagne Pie. I decided to weave strips of the lasagne into a lattice pattern and play with the shape, the ingredients on top and cooking technique to get it right. Truthfully, I wish that the lattice showed through better. But the thing about lasagne that makes it so irresistible is that cheesy, absolute comfort food appeal of the top. Right? Those bubbly bits with the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce to noodle are everything! That’s what I wanted, PLUS the cool lattice appeal of pie-meets-lasagne.

In the end, this recipe works beautifully because the noodles are al dente, the sauce is tasty and plentiful, the cheese is creamy and bubbly but not overpowering and the design is neat. Perfect for entertaining. Ideal for potlucks. A great idea for a new parent. An awesome twist on a family favorite.

Lasagne Lattice Pie ingredients

Lasagne Lattice Pie

Here’s what you need:

1 pound lasagne sheets (size will depend on your baking dish. see note below)
2/3 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided (see recipe above)
1/2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves cut into strips
3/4 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella
1 pound ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, sliced
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375.
Sauté sliced garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. After 1-2 minutes or at the point when you see delicious light brown edges on your garlic slices, add the ground turkey. I like to leave some variation in size of the chunks, because the unpredictability of the little pockets tucked away underneath those noodles is part of what makes lasagne interesting to me. Cook thoroughly, time will depend on the largest size of your chunks. Combine with 1/2 cup of sauce (see recipe above).

Grease a 10 inch oval baking dish with olive oil on the bottom and sides.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and egg with 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Set aside.

Assembling the lasagne layers (see note below)

Spread out 1/4 cup of sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish. Place the first layer of lasagne on the bottom. Spoon in a generous layer of the ricotta egg sauce mixture (about half) on top of the noodle.
Place one layer of zucchini slices on top. Sprinkle with almost half of the fresh basil. Sprinkle on a layer of mozzarella (I used 1/4 cup). Add the next noodle layer. Spread the remaining ricotta egg and sauce mixture onto the noodle. Add a thick layer of ground turkey. The 9 inch oval baking dish accommodates the whole pound, but that may vary depending on what you use. Sprinkle another round of fresh basil all around and top that with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Add dollops of sauce.

Note: you can eliminate the meat here and just use an additional layer of zucchini or any sliced veggie of your choice!

assembling the layers for Lasagne Lattice Pie

Making the crust

Slice lasagne sheets into fairly even ribbons. Mine were about 1.5-2 inches wide. They should be longer than your baking dish. Lay them side by side in one layer, lengthwise. There will be overhang on both sides and we’ll use that later to form a crust. Using an over-under method, insert noodles crosswise and side by side to create the lattice.

Use a scissors or a sharp knife to cut off any excess that’s exceptionally long. You can use those later to make pasta- because why not? Use your fingers and pinch together the noodle ends around the edge of the baking dish. Pinching together and tucking in the pasta will form a sort of crust and it is absolutely divine when baked. Brush all around with olive oil and make sure to get that crust. Spread a thin layer of sauce all around the top, and top with cheese. Make sure to go easy on the cheese in some spots so that the fruits of your labor - the lattice work - shows through!

p.s. - you can make these in various shapes. I tried my hand at a round pie and small pies too!

Baking the Lasagne

Cover with foil or parchment and pop into a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 25-30 minutes. At this point, you can add more mozzarella and place under the broiler for 2 minutes, but if you don’t want to add more cheese, you’re done! Enjoy!

round lasagne lattice pie
Mini Lasagne Lattice Pies

DIY Family Meal Ideas

I grew up with family dinners pretty much every night. I’m not sure how old I was when it started, but the memory is a strong and happy one. Some days I feel awful that I can’t figure out how to make this happen with my own family. My kids eat dinner at 5:30, and most nights, my husband isn’t home that early. Perhaps family dinner will come at some point for us, but it’ll have to be when the kids go to bed later, and I don’t see that happening for a while.

There are days I feel terrible about this. I’ve read article after article about the benefits of daily family dinners. Somehow though, we can only make it work on weekends. And even then, sometimes it’s only on Sundays. I guess it’s better than nothing. Most nights, I serve my kids dinner and sit with them while they eat. Sometimes I eat dinner with them, and sometimes I wait until later.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that regardless of the number of parents at the table, a fun, interactive dinner vibe makes the rest of the evening flow more smoothly. Most nights, we play a game called ‘Petals and Thorns’ where we go around the table and talk about the best part of our day (the petal) and the worst part of our day (the thorn) to get the conversation going. Beyond that, food that gets the kids talking makes the evening more fun. Enter: DIY meals.

Here are some of our favorites lately:

DIY Sweet Potato Bar

DIY Sweet Potato Bar

Sweet potatoes are fabulous all year ‘round, and this dinner hits all the high notes with me and my crew. You can make it hearty with bacon and cheese; it’s a great way to add veggies with broccoli, peppers, onions or radishes; it can be sweetened with cinnamon; it can be spicy and sharp with salsa and scallions.

Here we’ve got bell peppers, scallions, caramelized onions, salsa, cheese, radishes, sour cream, avocado, broccoli, cinnamon, bacon and pea shoots. Something for everyone! You can also add black beans, leftover chicken… the sky’s the limit!

DIY Tacos

DIY Tacos

Raise your hand if your family loves tacos! My family loves them, but they each have different opinions about what should be included. Having the ability to customize makes everyone happy. And here’s my favorite part about this meal: leftovers are absolutely divine. Here we’ve got grilled chicken, guacamole, red onion, avocado, cilantro, lettuce, radish, beans, tomato and cheese. There’s salad and brussels sprouts on the side, but this dinner has no rules… those are welcome to go in too!

Toast Bar

DIY Toast Bar

Breakfast for dinner is always a hit here, and lately we’ve been all about banana toast. Offer some various breads, nut butters, jams and fresh or dried fruit and you’ve got something magical. The best part here is that you can go sweet or savory. Add smashed chick peas or hummus, leftover chicken, avocado, and it’s a whole new angle!

My favorite thing about DIY Toast is that you’ve got options to keep it simple or make it more complex. Either way, make sure to start with some really amazing bread!

DIY Wafflewiches

DIY Wafflewich

If you’re into the DIY Toast idea, you are definitely going to love my DIY Waffle Bar. It starts with homemade savory waffles (recipe here) and grows from there. This can be wonderful for any meal, not just breakfast.

Bonus points for serving a rainbow of colors. :)

Our family favorites include cheese, bacon, jam and avocado. Here we also have berries, cream cheese, radish and tomato.

Do you have DIY meal favorites? I’d love to hear about it! Shoot me an email or let me know on Instagram or Facebook. If you make one of these meals and post it, be sure to tag @lalalunchbox #lalalunchbox!

My Dinner Struggle

Let me just put this out there: My husband and I don't usually eat dinner with our kids. I grew up eating family dinner and the thought of sitting and chatting together around a table of deliciousness sounds fantastic, but I can't quite figure out when that's going to happen around here. Or how. But the problem is bigger than that. 

My kids are still young (9, 5 and 3) and they eat early, around 5:30 pm; my youngest is asleep before my husband gets home from work. The kids eat together and then later in the evening, my husband and I eat together. Having the opportunity to break bread as a twosome at the end of the day is lovely in many ways. That said, I'm naturally hungry much earlier than we eat so I don't particularly love eating dinner at 8:30 or later. I usually end up sitting down with the kids for a little nibble and then eat another small plate later. Far from ideal. 

kids at the table

Some nights I'm a rockstar and I make one meal for all of us, and serve part of it to the early birds and save the rest for the night owls. But each and every time, I stand in my kitchen wondering: do I leave this food out on the counter or the stove top for hours? Or do I refrigerate it? I never know the answer.
Despite the fact that I cook dinner for 5 people every day and have been doing this for years, I somehow haven't mastered the art of quantity. Sometimes I cook a meal that I think should be enough for all of us and one (or more) of the kids is hungrier than I'd anticipated so there isn't quite enough for the night owl dinner. On the flip side, occasionally I'll make a meal and my kids aren't as hungry as usual so there are way more leftovers than planned. Other times I'm in the mood for something that I know the kids won't enjoy so I end up cooking twice. That's when  I stand in my kitchen wondering how crazy I must be to make two separate dinners in one day (followed by packing three school lunches). 

I'm tired. 

You'll find me in the grocery store about twice weekly -- it takes a lot of food to feed five people and my fridge isn't as big as I'd like. But let's be honest, I also enjoy browsing the aisles and discovering new products. Shopping more than once per week gives my kids more options to choose from to plan their lunches and I like to cook so it felt like a win until I realized that I'm feeling stretched too thin. 

double yolk

The Solution
Something had to give. I decided that any time there was an issue with dinner, eggs were the answer. If I make a dish that I'm pretty sure the kids won't like, I offer it anyway and when it's inevitably rejected, they get eggs (with veggies and fruit). If dinner is gobbled up more than expected, my husband and I have eggs (with veggies). Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin B and also happen to be delicious! And the money spent on a dozen eggs goes a lot farther than many other proteins. So we're in an egg routine now. I've been buying jumbo eggs for a while now, mostly because of their size but also because finding a double yolk gives me an absolute thrill every single time. 

The Questions

  • I'd love to find dishes and straightforward recipes that can accommodate all of us. Do you make one meal for everyone in your family?
  • I don't know when I'll figure out a way for us to eat dinner together - for now, our family meal is breakfast. Do you eat together? If so, how old were your kids when you started that? 
  • It's pretty lucky that we all dig eggs. For me, it was important to have a fall back option so that I don't feel guilty or stressed out or resentful about dinner. What are your standbys? Do you have a source for recipes that you absolutely love? 

The Recipe
Eggs are so versatile. Here's one of my favorite recipes for Veggie Pie that every member of my family enjoys: 


8 eggs (I use jumbos but large will work just fine)
1 pound of spinach, chopped
1 pound of asparagus, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pie crust*
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

*the pie crust is optional. I've made this dozens of times with no crust at all. 

Method (photos below)
Preheat the oven to 375. Prepare your pie crust as needed. I often use a ready-made dough which needs to be par-baked. Mix the greens, salt and pepper in a big bowl to evenly distribute all ingredients. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the greens. Sauté for just 2 minutes, when the greens begin to shrink. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Place greens back in your big bowl and add the eggs. Combine all ingredients and pour into your pie crust. Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes (time will vary depending on the depth of your container, so keep your eye on the oven). 

Chopped greens, all playing nicely together

Chopped greens, all playing nicely together

lightly sauteed greens

lightly sauteed greens

eggs + greens + crust = ready for the oven!

eggs + greens + crust = ready for the oven!

Veggie Pi(e)! 

Veggie Pi(e)!