Don't Serve Lasagna Without One Of These Side Dishes

Mmmm, lasagna. It's one of those dishes that starts a countdown; as soon as the thought of lasagna crosses your mind, it's only a matter of time before you kind of have to have a slice. The Italian dish generally consists of a bolognese-style sauce and a béchamel, alternating between layers of delicate pasta. You're as likely to find lasagna at a potluck (because it's so easy to make for a crowd) as you are on the menu of a fine-dining Italian osteria. Ina Garten does a great turkey version, and a simple, straightforward lasagna is only five ingredients away. But lasagna is also kind of like a Rorschach test; it can be whatever you want it to be.

A side dish for such an A-list dinner celebrity is often an afterthought — the plus-one on Julia Roberts' arm at the Oscars. But done right and a side will take your lasagna to the next level, complementing that rich, show-stopping impact with its own self-assured sense of style and flavor. You want the side for your lasagna to balance the relationship — provide levity where the lasagna gets too serious — or pack a punch if your lasagna is the subtle, more flowery type. To that end, there are some side dishes your lasagna simply cannot do without.

Add some crunch with a salad or garlic bread

Any rich, meaty lasagna is going to be well balanced with a side of leafy greens. Let's be honest: a baked pasta with minced meat, heaps of gooey cheese, and enough butter and milk to counter the salty tomato sauce with creamy béchamel (like in this recipe from BBC Good Food) isn't exactly on the "lighter fare" side of a menu. Get some crunch on the side with a lemony, peppery arugula salad, or a classic Italian chopped salad (via A Couple Cooks). Either one is easy to throw together after you've spent your last energy token on creating the lasagna itself, and each salad offers that zippy, fresh counterbalance to a baked pasta's heft.

If you think the best thing that can possibly go with a carb bomb like lasagna is more carbs...well, you're exactly right. There is a reason garlic bread is often served alongside the pasta dish, and it's not that your favorite Italian restaurant is trying to fatten you up like the witch in Hansel in Gretel. (Or, it's probably not that.) Italians love to "fare la scarpetta," which literally translates to "do the little shoe" and figuratively translates to "using a little piece of bread like a shovel to scoop up every last bit of sauce and pasta on your plate and shoehorn it into your mouth" (via Italy Magazine). If that's not a great plus-one, nothing is.