The welcoming scent and savory blend of cheese, meat sauce, and wide pasta noodles make lasagna a dinnertime favorite for kids and grown-ups alike. Low-fat turkey lasagna and gluten-free lasagna, with thin-sliced summer squash as a noodle substitute, make the dish accessible for your family's taste preferences and specific dietary needs. While it's tempting to serve hearty lasagna all on its own, a few simple sides that are quick to prepare turn the nutritious entree into a complete, well-balanced dinner.
Simple Salad Options
A cool, green salad comes together quickly when you keep a salad spinner handy to rinse and dry the leafy ingredients. Packaged garden greens and baby spinach keep your prep time low. Leaf lettuce, crisp head lettuce, and greens such as arugula and curly endive take just a minute more to tear up into bite-size pieces. Serve the salad family style in a large bowl with bottled Italian or creamy dressing. If you have a dishwasher, individual bowls of salad add an elegant touch to the dinner table without much extra clean-up.
A Collection of Colorful Fruits and Veggies
Mild vegetables like zucchini, green beans, and broccoli pair well with lasagna's robust flavor. Their bright green colors look appealing on a dinner plate next to the lasagna's tomato-red sauce. Fresh, these vegetables can be rinsed, trimmed, and steamed as the lasagna is cooling from the hot oven. If you have frozen veggies, microwave them a few minutes before serving dinner. For small appetites or a change of pace, serve lasagna with small bunches of grapes, or half a sliced pear on the side for a sweet counterpoint to the lasagna's savory flavors.
A Bounty of Bread Ideas
Warm garlic bread is a favorite accompaniment to Italian-style meals like a lasagna dinner. Spread slices of a long, slender loaf of crusty whole-grain bread with garlic butter. Reassemble the loaf, wrap it in aluminum foil and pop it in the hot oven about 20 minutes before serving time. Place the warm bread in a napkin-lined basket to pass around the table. For a lighter touch, serve seasoned or plain crisp breadsticks standing upright in a tall mug for everyone to help themselves.
Light, Delicious Desserts
After a filling lasagna dinner, keep dessert light and simple. Fresh berries with yogurt for dipping or a simple slice of ice-cold watermelon are convenient, natural choices. A refreshing frozen dessert like sherbert puts a sweet, citrus finishing touch on the meal and is easy to serve if you dip the spoon in warm water between scoops. If you prefer to stick with an Italian-cuisine theme all the way to the end, serve Italian gelato -- a rich, frozen custard you'll find next to the ice cream in your grocer's freezer aisle or at specialty food stores.
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Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.