Nourishing Literacy | Let's Layer: Art and Cooking!

By Shayna M. RSS Fri, December 10, 2021

What art projects can you think of that involve layers? What recipes have you tasted that include layers of ingredients?

Leanna and Tonii share two ideas for layering, while creating art and recipes in the following video. These ideas might be ones that you want to try or they might inspire different ideas of your own!

Tonii's Layered Lasagna Recipe


  • 8-ounce box of lasagna noodles or 10 to 12 noodles (no-boil or boil)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 optional Tablespoon oil 
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic or 2 cloves garlic minced (optional)
  • ¼ cup diced onion or 1 small onion diced (optional)
  • ½ pound or 1 cup ground beef (optional)
  • Two 24-ounce jars of tomato sauce, three 15-ounce cans, 6 cups 
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, basil, or oregano (optional)
  • 16-ounce container or 2 cups of ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, or ¼ bunch parsley chopped, or 2½ Tablespoons dried parsley (optional)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 8-ounce bag or 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Kitchen Utensils and Tools

  • Large pot (with water, for boiling noodles, if needed to cook lasagna noodles)
  • Medium bowl 
  • Aluminum foil
  • 3 small or medium spoons (for mixing and distributing filling across the layers)
  • Saute pan with a lid (if needed to cook onion, garlic, and/or beef)
  • Potholder
  • Bowl (with cold water, if cooking noodles)
  • Baking dish (approx. 9 x 13 inches)
  • Set of measuring cups
  • Set of measuring spoons


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If cooking noodles, bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Prepare the layers!

To prepare the ricotta mixture, mix the ricotta, egg, and parsley (if using) until everything is evenly combined. Cover and place in refrigerator until all ingredients are ready for layering.

If using tomato sauce with no additional ingredients added, there is no additional prep needed for the sauce. If adding onion, garlic, and/or meat to the sauce, heat a saute pan over a medium-low temperature and add 1 teaspoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and diced onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the meat, spices, and tomato sauce and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring a few times. Cover and cook for 5 additional minutes. 

        3. Cook the noodles (skip this step if using no-boil noodles) once the water is boiling.

Tonii’s Tips:

  • Add 1 Tablespoon of both oil and salt to water as the noodles boil.
  • Cook noodles 1 or 2 minutes less than the directions on the package for al-dente noodles.
  • Place cooked noodles in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

         4. Layer!

Depending on the number of noodles that you have and the width of your baking dish, you will create 3 or 4 repeated layers. Be sure to save enough of each layer for 3 to 4 rounds! First, add a layer of sauce to the bottom of the dish.

Tonii’s Pattern:

  • Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Ricotta
  • Repeat for 3 to 4 rounds
  • Top with a layer of shredded cheese!

          5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving.

For more recipes that highlight layers, check out Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go by Julia Mirabella and Casseroles: 60 Fabulous One-Dish Recipes by the Good Housekeeping Institute. What layers of flavors, textures, and colors do you enjoy cooking with or eating?

For inspiration on layering when creating art, Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists: Experimental Techniques for Composition, Layering, Texture, Imagery, and Encaustic by Ann Baldwin is a guidebook that can be referenced by beginners through experts.

Special thank you to Leanna Marks for adding her beautiful, original music to our video and for editing the video for us as well, in addition to teaching us how to layer with poured paint!

Nourishing Literacy offers food, literacy, wellness, and life skills activities and events to community members, with our core audience being the children, youth, teachers, and caregivers. Nourishing Literacy is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Edna G. Kynett Memorial Foundation.

To learn more about the Culinary Literacy Center, please visit our website or connect with us through Instagram and Facebook.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

Leave this field empty

Add a Comment to Nourishing Literacy | Let's Layer: Art and Cooking!

Email is kept private and will not be displayed publicly
Comment must be less than 3000 characters