(Photo AP)

We can thank lasagna for helping a lukewarm election finally catch some heat.

Lead gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo was forced to confront the many cooks in his kitchen Wednesday after his mother slighted the authenticity of his girlfriend’s Italian dish, saying: “That’s not the way you make a lasagna.”

The Cuomo matriarch poo-pooed the version of the dish dreamed up by her son’s gal pal, Food Network personality Sandra Lee, which features cottage cheese, tomato soup and apple cider vinegar.

“Sandy makes a beautiful lasagna, my mother makes a beautiful lasagna, and on this issue I’m going to be very, very careful,” Andrew Cuomo said yesterday on Talk 1300 AM.

While Cuomo handled the flap delicately, he admitted it was the most biggest bomb he’s dealt with in the campaign so far.

“It’s a tempest inside a Tupperware pot,” said Adam Kluger, a PR consultant based in Manhattan “You’re talking about Italian-American pride.”

Outside of the cooking showdown, the race has been a snore. Cuomo easily trumps his GOP counterpart, Rick Lazio, 60-24 percent among voters, according to a Siena College poll released earlier this week.

Lazio “is frozen pizza in comparison,” said Evan Stavisky, a Democratic stategist.
A Lazio spokesman did not return a call for comment, nor did a representative for Lee.

Political and image strategists agree that lasagna-gate may actually be a way to get people interested in the race and the Cuomo clan.

“It usually makes for a good story when pop culture and politics intersect,” Stavisky said.

The spat also evokes the classic tension between mother-in-laws and significant others, with even a governor needing to stand up for his partner in such times, psychologists said.

“It’s becoming your own man,” said Peter Kanaris, a coordinator for the New York State Psychological Association. “That’s one of the great developmental challenges we have.”

Political insiders say Cuomo is just as close to his mom, Matilda as he is to his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers asked about the flap yesterday rolled their eyes at Albany’s goofiness.

“It could be worse,” said Rachel Murphy, 28, of Red Hook. “We could be Arizona.”

Robert Levin contributed to this story.

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