Cream cheese is a jack-of-all-trades ingredient. It can enhance almost any dish by providing a creamy texture and tangy flavor -- especially when it comes to pasta dishes. While lasagna is perhaps best known for involving mozzarella and ricotta cheese, there's no harm in skipping the ricotta in favor of a layer of delicious cream cheese. If you go this route, you'll end up with a lasagna that has a much richer flavor than if made with ricotta.
Why choose cream cheese? For starters, cream cheese and ricotta are made using similar processes. The primary difference is that making ricotta involves milk; making cream cheese calls for cream and milk. This slight ingredient difference sets it apart from ricotta in terms of its richer flavor and fattier profile. If you're going purely for taste in a homemade lasagna, you should give this swap a chance. We recommend pairing it with another cheese, such as mozzarella, to bring the whole dish together. However, you can also choose other cheeses and ingredients to pair with a cream cheese-based lasagna.
How To Use Cream Cheese In Homemade Lasagna
Cream cheese's richer flavor and thicker texture means you won't need quite as much of it. While most recipes suggest layering thick dollops of ricotta throughout your lasagna, you can spread a thin layer of softened cream cheese across the lasagna noodles, and you'll be good to go. To better imitate ricotta's texture, use whipped cream cheese; it's a bit fluffier and simpler to scoop with a spoon, allowing you to disperse spoonfuls throughout.
Cream cheese has more fat than ricotta cheese, so if you're looking for an alternative, consider substituting Neufchâtel. This cheese has the same tangy flavor and smooth texture as cream cheese but clocks in with lower fat and higher moisture content. Regardless of the type of cream cheese (or substitute) you use, you can add even more flavor to your lasagna by seasoning this creamy, neutral-flavored ingredient with garlic and onion powder or throwing in some crushed red pepper flakes for heat before laying it into the dish.
Other Ways To Enhance Homemade Lasagna
If you're looking for the creamiest, most delicious lasagna possible, we'll let you in on a little secret: Instead of topping the dish with fresh mozzarella, break up a few burrata balls and add them to the mix. Burrata is similar in flavor to mozzarella, but the addition of cream arguably makes it mozzarella's more-loved sibling. Burrata plus cream cheese creates a can't-miss pasta dish.
Lasagna can be made with or without meat, so you're welcome to only add cheese. However, if you prefer to make yours with meat, skip ground beef. Instead, opt for ground spicy Italian sausage. The inclusion of burrata and cream cheese will perfectly balance out the heat, leaving you with a not-too-spicy dish that is packed with more flavor than you would get from typical ground beef. Finally, once your lasagna is done baking, we recommend popping the broiler on to impart some crispy crunch to its cheesy top layer before digging in.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.