Italian food is by far my favorite food in the world. Even more so than desserts. Italian food to me is the ultimate comfort food. All my wonderful childhood memories revolve around eating some type of Italian food. Over the years I feel like I have perfected the ultimate lasagna for me and my family. I usually don’t order lasagna out at restaurants because I feel I can make it better and I also have overlooked a lot of recipes for lasagna because I like mine so much. But one day I was watching the Cooking Channel and came across a show called Extra Virgin starring actress, Debi Mazar and her husband, Gabriele Corcos. They are really cute together. Her voice is a bit on the annoying side, but I try to look past that! I am glad I did that day. They made a wonderful looking lasagna dish called “Lasagne Alla Bolognese”. It was similar to my lasagna, but they brought it up a notch by adding a layer of béchamel sauce to it. Wow. I was intrigued enough to try it. Obviously it looked and sounded that good for me to feel compelled to make it. But, of course I did add a few ingredients to make it my own. I must tell you, though it is different than my lasagna, this recipe is SO good. I can still taste it as I write this post. I think it may be better than my original lasagna recipe! I can’t believe I just said that!
This recipe is a bit labor intensive, but so worth it. You will have left over Bolognese sauce. I froze it so I can make this again in the future. I didn’t freeze the béchamel sauce because it doesn’t take long to make it. Once you defrost the Bolognese sauce this really does come together rather quickly for a weeknight meal.
What is your favorite lasagna recipe? Since I am finally open to trying other lasagna recipes I would love to hear what you put in your favorite lasagna dish!
Lasagne Alla Bolognese
Photo and recipe by The Comforting Cook
Recipe adapted from Extra Virgin
Lasagne Alla Bolognese
- Cooking spray for pan
- 1 1/2 (9-ounce) boxes no-boil lasagna noodles
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 16 ounces of fresh mozzarella, shredded
- Small container of ricotta cheese
Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped
- 3 medium celery stalks chopped
- 5 ounces pancetta, cut into small cubes
- 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 (28-ounce) cans of tomatoes (I used two cans of puree and one can of crushed tomatoes)Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
Ingredients for Bechamel Sauce:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions for cooking the Bolognese Sauce:
Saute the onion, carrots, and celery in about 5 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot like a dutch oven. Add the pancetta to the onion mixture. Cook on a medium-high flame for about 7 to 10 minutes, then add the meat; break it up well with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and the parsley and cook for just 1 minute.
Add the wine now and cook until the alcohol is completely evaporated, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the cooked bacon to this mixture.
Add the cans of tomatoes to the meat, season generously with salt and pepper, lower the flame to medium and cook for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Finish the sauce by adding the whole milk, stir well and set aside, to cool off.
Directions for cooking the Bechamel Sauce:
Melt the 1/2 cup butter in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook’s Note: This is an important moment, as you have to slowly toast the flour without burning it. This will help you lose the flowery taste.
Warm up the milk and gradually ladle into the pot with the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly while bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk, if too runny, return to the heat and add a pat of butter mixed with an equal amount of all-purpose flour. The most important thing though is: béchamel sauce should not taste floury. If you think your sauce is ready, but you can spot a hint of “flouriness” when you taste it, think again, and keep on cooking it for a few minutes more.
Directions for assembling and cooking the lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees .
Spray cooking spray in the lasagna pan well and add a very thin layer of meat sauce.
Add the first layer of lasagna noodles and in order, cover with meat sauce, béchamel sauce, shredded mozzarella, nine dollops of ricotta cheese (make three rows of three), and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Repeat the same process until you reach the top of the dish. Make sure the lasagna noodles are soaking into the sauce.
When done layering the ingredients, top the lasagna with a final ladle of meat sauce and some béchamel sauce, along with a generous layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes.
Heat a broiler. When the lasagna is cooked, give it a nice crisp top by broiling it for about 5 minutes.