16 Best Side Dishes For Lasagna in 4 Categories
Whether you call it lasagna or lasagne, the love affair that is pasta, cheese, and decadent sauces was created in Italy some time in the Middle Ages. Find here the most delicious side dishes for lasagna, plus tasty appetizers.
A cookbook from the 1300s first references a layered pasta dish, showing the popularity of lasagna over 700 years ago. It’s a universally loved creation, the only question is… what do you have it with?
Traditional lasagna is made by stacking layers of pasta with alternating fillings of ragu, bechamel sauce, and cheese. Some lasagna dishes include a meat and tomato ragu, some are made with vegetables, and yet others stick to one type of cheese or a mix of Italian cheeses.
There are many regional varieties of lasagna. We’ll briefly delve into these below, before getting into what you might want to serve your lasagna with.
What to Serve with Lasagna: Best Side Dishes
Lasagna from Bologna is the best-known type, featuring a hearty tomato and ground beef sauce and creamy bechamel.
Genoa, on the other hand, is well-known for seafood lasagna made with a variety of fresh shellfish and squid. Neapolitan lasagna is famous for its juicy tomato sauce and rich mozzarella topping — ideal for vegetarians.
And Tuscan lasagna is known for its tomato and blended meat sauce (featuring different types of meat) laced with wine.
Whichever variety you choose to make, the side or sides you serve it with should make your lasagna shine. They should cut through the richness of this famed pasta dish and add something to it, rather than being heavy or overpowering.
Below is a variety of the best sides for your lasagna, in a selection of helpful categories. Plus the best appetizers and drinks you won’t want to miss.
Simple and Quick Lasagne Sides
Some of the simplest sides are the best — case in point these delicious recipe ideas below. Your lasagna should definitely be the star dish, and these lovely sides will enhance it without stealing the show. Make one or whip up a range of these to serve to your guests.
Traditional Tomato Bruschetta
Traditionally, Italian bruschetta is toasted bread topped with a mix of tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese.
This may seem a counterintuitive side, since lasagna already contains tomatoes, but trust us. Adding plenty of fresh basil to your bruschetta makes it almost like a side salad, and gives it a refreshing note that’ll balance the richness of the lasagne.
Roasted Tomatoes with Olive Oil
This is another tomato-based side dish, but it’s delicious and a little sweet, so it works well. All you need is some halved cherry tomatoes, good quality extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and some freshly ground pepper, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
Mix everything together and spread out the tomatoes on a baking sheet, and roast gently. Roasted tomatoes have a subtly sweet, umami flavor, making them fairly addictive and delicious alongside fresh bread.
Honey-roasted carrots are amongst the easiest side dishes you could ever make. All you need to do is peel some carrots, top and tail them, and stick them in a roasting dish.
Lather on some good quality extra virgin olive oil and a drizzle of honey, along with some fresh sprigs of thyme. Roast until tender but not mushy, and enjoy.
What makes this a great side dish is the sweetness of the carrots. It also works well with a fish-based lasagna, though you may wish to add some lemon slices to your roasting tin in that case.
Parmesan and Lemon Asparagus
This is another brilliant side dish that’s super quick and simple to make. Just cut off any hard bits of your asparagus before spreading it out on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with some good quality extra virgin olive oil, and add some lemon wedges and parmesan shavings. Roast until tender, and serve. Asparagus is particularly good for your gut health and full of nutrients, making it the perfect side for rich, cheesy lasagne.
Healthy Side Dishes for Lasagna
Speaking of healthy side-dishes, if that’s your key aim, we have just the right ones for you. Just because lasagna is a very rich dish, it doesn’t have to be unhealthy, and you can cut through the calorific-ness with good-for-you sides. Here are a few of our favorites.
Raw Zucchini Salad
Raw zucchini salad is a healthy yet delicious idea for a side dish. You’ll want to slice the zucchini into thin strips using a potato peeler. Garnish with a zingy lemon vinaigrette, some fresh herbs such as basil and chives, and shaved parmesan. You can also add some toasted pine nuts and shredded mozzarella, if you like, though these will up the calorie content again.
Fennel and Orange Salad
Fennel has a fresh licorice-like taste that’s lovely when paired with rich sauces or seafood. Pair it with some skinless orange segments (you’ll want to remove the thinner membranes too).
Garnish with some olive oil mixed with wholegrain mustard and a little bit of sugar or maple syrup, as well as a thinly sliced red onion. You may also wish to add some sharp rocket leaves.
Green Beans with Lemon
Another vitamin-rich side dish that’s hard to beat. Trim your green beans and then blanch them briefly or microwave them with a little bit of water.
Cooking green beans for a short amount of time ensures that they stay a vibrant green color, which is much better than limp, bland-looking beans. Season with lemon, a bit of garlic, and some salted butter, and enjoy.
Arugula Salad with Parmesan
Did you know that arugula (or rucola, or rocket) is an amazing source of vitamin K and other essential nutrients. It’s good for your bones, your brain, nerves, muscles, your digestive system, and more.
Pair it with some high quality extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and some shaved parmesan. Sprinkle over some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Because this is such a fresh, zingy side, it’s especially good for very cheesy lasagnas.
Vegetable Lasagna Sides
If you’re preparing a meat-based lasagna, you may wish to serve it with a veggie side. Or, if you’re catering to vegetarians or vegans, you might just want to make everything vegetable-based. Whichever your reason, below are a few of the best veg lasagne sides we could find.
Air Fried Asparagus
What makes air fryer asparagus so good? It’s crispy and takes a minimal amount of time. Simply cut off any hard ends off your asparagus, season it with some extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and dried thyme, and throw it into your air fryer per the machine’s instructions.
Once done, you may add some shaved parmesan (or a vegan alternative) and a bit of lemon juice. Delicious.
Baked Zucchini with a Herby Topping
Zucchini makes for a yummy baked side dish. You can make this with just sliced zucchini, garlic, herbs (such as fresh basil and parsley), extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper.
Or you can add some sweet cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan or shredded mozzarella. Bake until just tender and, if using cheese, the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.
This does make for quite a rich side dish, but it’s tasty, and you can always follow it by a health food day.
Zesty Avocado Salad
Avocado is a very rich vegetable, but it makes for a great, refreshing salad all the same. Just pair it with some fresh cucumber chunks, halved cherry tomatoes, some diced red onion, and a zingy lime dressing. Be sure to add some of the lime zest as well (just wash them well first).
Add some honey, cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs to your dressing. Some recipes call for cilantro — add this if you’re having a seafood lasagna, but perhaps skip it for other varieties, as the flavor can be a little overpowering.
Balsamic Roasted Bell Peppers
This is another super easy side dish which you can whip up in minutes. Just deseed some bell peppers (a few different colors look nice), and cut them into segments.
Add the peppers to a baking sheet or roasting tin, and slather with some good quality extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle with sea salt and a good grind of fresh pepper, as well as some balsamic vinegar or glaze.
Roast until just soft. The balsamic adds a sort of sweet tartness, which is lovely alongside lasagna and some fresh bread.
Most Popular Lasagne Side Dishes
If you’ve gotten this far in this article, you’re obviously looking for the all-time superstar side dishes to serve with your lasagna. Some of these may surprise you, while others are obvious choices.
This may sound quite surreal, but chicken wings are actually one of the best lasagna pairings we came across. Ideally, you’ll want to go for a buffalo spiced or other spicy chicken wing recipe.
Whip them up in the oven, fry them, or make them in an air fryer. Trust us, chicken wings are great as a side for meat-based lasagnas.
Homemade Focaccia Bread
If you’ve ever seen those beautiful painting-like focaccia breads on social media, you’ll probably be feeling quite intimidated. Yet focaccia bread isn’t actually that hard to make — you can even prepare the dough in a breadmaker.
The trick is to really let your focaccia dough rise for as long as possible, even overnight. Add some fresh rosemary and sea salt or drizzles of homemade, garlicky pesto before baking, and impress your guests.
Focaccia not your thing? Try some frozen garlic baguette instead, which will almost taste like it’s been homemade.
Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
Caesar salad is a simple green salad topped with parmesan cheese and, generally, croutons, and a dressing made with lemon juice, egg, olive oil, anchovies (optional), Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic.
Make yours extra special by making your own Caesar dressing and garlic croutons. Croutons are incredibly easy to make, all you need is some bread (slightly stale bread works fine) and cut it into cubes.
Add these to a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and a grind of black pepper. Roast until just lightly browned and crunchy.
Italian Green Beans
Italian green beans tend to be coated with a mixture of parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs, before being sauteed until the breadcrumbs are toasted and any added cheese has melted.
Our favorite recipe combined trimmed and washed green beans with breadcrumbs, Italian herbs, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. What makes these Italian?
Probably the addition of herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley. Either way, they’re very good alongside any kind of lasagne.
Appetizers Before Serving Lasagna
Making an entire meal? You’ll want to know the best appetizers to serve before your lasagna. Below is a selection of our all time favorites.
Antipasto literally translates to ‘before meal’, so it makes perfect sense to serve a platter of delicious antipasti before your lasagne. We like a selection of Italian cured and cooked meats, cheeses, and marinated olives, artichokes, and peppers.
You can buy most of these readymade in a deli or supermarket, and they tend to be popular as everyone can choose what they’d enjoy most.
Caprese Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Another Italian favorite, Caprese salad is named after its probable island of origin, Capri. It’s made with slices of fresh, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, and good extra virgin olive oil.
Generally, people dress it with just freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, and sometimes balsamic glaze. A fun origin myth suggests it was created as an homage to the colors of the Italian flag.
Homemade Beef Carpaccio
Beef carpaccio is made of thinly sliced fresh beef tenderloin or sirloin. You’ll want to get this from a good butcher who knows it’ll be consumed raw to avoid any risk of illness.
Trim off any excess fat, and season your carpaccio with flakes of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with some rocket salad and generous slivers of parmesan cheese. Some also like to add capers for their delicious saltiness.
Prosciutto and Melon
Prosciutto e Melone is another popular Italian appetizer. The fresh cantaloupe used for this dish makes it somewhat sweet, while the prosciutto adds a lovely saltiness.
All you need for this, really, is melon wedges and prosciutto. Wrap the prosciutto around each wedge and serve. Because this is such a refreshing dish, it makes for the perfect appetizer for the richer lasagna.
Drinks That Go Well with Lasagna
Last but not least, you’ll need some delicious drinks to go alongside your lasagne, sides, and appetizers. Here are some of our favorites, which will cater to a wide variety of discerning tastes. Serve one or serve all of them, per you and your guests’ preferences.
The best wine for a classic Italian meat lasagna would probably be a red wine. Some seem to suggest modern-style reds from Tuscany, and richer red wines that offer a bold counterpart to the flavors of your main dish.
If you’re making a seafood lasagna, a citrusy white wine such as a Pinot Grigio will serve you best.
Also known as ‘negroni sbagliato’, this recipe for a prosecco negroni swaps the gin for a lighter prosecco, giving the drink a lovely, soft sparkle.
You’ll need some Campari, vermouth, prosecco, and a slice of orange to serve. Serve these over ice either alongside the appetizer or as a lovely treat post-dessert time.
Sparkling water may sound tame, but it makes for the perfect accompaniment to lasagne for those who do not wish to have alcohol.
You can add some lemon or lime wedges, which add a zesty flavor. Serve your sparkling water ice cold and make sure you give your guests glasses that are just as nice as the ones you’re using for any cocktails.