One of the most loved foods in the world is finally here! This is a traditional Italian Lasagna, made the Italian way with layers of slow cooked Bolognese ragu and cheese sauce. No ricotta – that’s the American-Italian version. Though patience is required, it is quite straight forward to make as you will see in the recipe video!
This is a reader-favourite recipe included by popular demand in my debut cookbook “Dinner”!
Traditional Italian lasagna
Lasagna, lasagna. How I love thee! It is possibly one of the most loved foods in the whole wide world, and understandably so. There is just something so sentimental about lasagna, so comforting. It evokes images of of gatherings with family and friends all around the world. It is the sort of food that is like a big warm hug, and so more-ish you want to keep digging in until you burst.
Lasagna just rocks. Full stop.
And if you’ve never tried a homemade one before, that needs to change! If you can make spaghetti bolognese, you can make lasagne. It just requires a wee bit more patience.
OK, bit more than a wee bit more patience. But it’s totally worth it. A real homemade Lasagna is epic.
Homemade Lasagna – three parts
There are 3 components to making lasagna:
The meat sauce;
The white sauce – creamy and thick, but no cream required!
Assembling and baking.
What goes in lasagna
The Meat Sauce is basically just like Bolognese. You need:
Onion, garlic, carrot and celery – for the flavour base, a soffrito;
Canned tomato and tomato paste
Red wine – for extra flavour!
Seasonings – beef bouillon cubes (stock cubes), bay leaves, thyme, oregano, Worcestershire sauce
For the white sauce, you need:
For assembling, you need:
- lasagna sheets – preferably fresh (from the fridge section of grocery stores) but dried works just fine too
How to make lasagne
See? I told you the meat sauce is just like making Bolognese! Though here, we cook that meat sauce long and slow, to develop incredible rich flavours and make the beef melt-in-your-mouth tender.
And here’s how you layer it up:
Smear a bit of meat sauce on the base first – stops the lasagna sheets from sliding around;
Layer 1 – top with meat sauce, bit of white sauce
Layer 2 – lay out more lasagna sheets, then top with more meat sauce and more white sauce
Layer 3 – repeat again, lasagna sheets, meat sauce then white sauce; and
Topping – cover with lasagna sheets, pour over remaining white sauce then sprinkle with cheese.
Pop it in the oven, and THIS is what comes out….
That moment when you cut into the golden bubbly cheesy top and you serve up a piping hot, oozy, meaty slice of lasagna….
That’s a little bit of food heaven, right there.
Lasagna first timers, the recipe video below will be super helpful. ❤️ Trust me, you got this. – Nagi xx
PS Also happens to be one of the nicest food gifts you can make for someone. Freezes 100% perfect, and is a huge step up from the usual simple casseroles. Right? 😉
Watch How To Make It
This recipe features in my debut cookbook Dinner. The book is mostly new recipes, but this is a reader favourite included by popular demand!
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- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion , finely chopped (white, yellow or brown)
- 1 medium carrot , finely diced
- 1 rib / stick of celery , finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 kg / 2 lb beef mince (ground beef) (Note 1)
- 800g / 28 oz crushed tomato
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup (250ml) red wine , bold not light (Note 2)
- 3 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled
- 2 bay leaves , dried or fresh
- 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and oregano
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 – 2 tsp sugar (if needed – Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper
Cheese Sauce (Besciamella):
- 60g / 4 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup (75g) flour
- 4 cups (1 litre) milk (I use low fat)
- 2 cups (200g) shredded cheese (Colby, Gruyere, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, OR 1 cup shredded parmesan) (Note 4)
- Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- 350g/ 12 oz fresh lasagna sheets (or 250g/8oz dried) (Note 5)
- 1 1/2 cups (150g) shredded mozzarella cheese
- Finely chopped basil or parsley , for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in a large heavy based pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes until softened and sweet – they should not brown (if they do, turn heat down).
- Add beef, turn heat up and cook the beef, breaking it up as you go.
- Once the beef has all turned brown, add the remaining Ragu ingredients EXCEPT the sugar.
- Stir then adjust the heat so it is bubbling very gently. Place the lid on and cook for 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring every now and then, then remove the lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
- The ragu is ready when the meat is really tender and the sauce has thickened and is rich – see video for consistency (Note 6). Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and add sugar if required (Note 3)
- Warm milk up in a saucepan (optional – just makes sauce thicken faster).
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat. Add flour and mix constantly for 1 minute.
- Pour about 1 cup of the milk in, mixing as you go to incorporate into the flour mixture. Once mostly lump free, add remaining milk. Use a whisk if needed to make it lump free.
- Turn heat up to medium high. Stir occasionally at first then regularly after a few minutes until sauce thickens – about 5 – 8 minutes. It should coat the back of the wooden spoon.
- Remove from heat, add cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix until the cheese is melted. The Sauce should be thick but still easily pourable – the consistency of heavy cream (you need to be able to drizzle it over the Ragu when layering – see video). If it’s too thick, add a splash of water or milk.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Use a 33 x 22 x 7 cm / 13 x 9 x 2.5″ baking dish.
- Smear a bit of Ragu on the base, then cover with lasagna sheets. Tear sheets to fit.
- Spread over 2 1/2 cups of Ragu (enough to cover sheets), then drizzle over 1 cup of Cheese Sauce.
- Top with lasagna sheets (Note 7). Spread with another 2 1/2 cups of Ragu, then 1 cup of Cheese Sauce. Top with lasagna sheets then repeat 1 more time.
- Top with a 4th layer of lasagna sheets, then pour over the remaining Cheese Sauce.
- Sprinkle with Mozzarella, then bake for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- Stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving, garnished with basil or parsley if desired.
Life Of Dozer
He just sprawls across the floor when he sleeps. No curling up cutely, chin on paw, like all those cute doggy pics you see all over the internet. Nope, this one just collapses and sprawls out right in my line of path (straight line from kitchen to table is over him – of course).
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