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My Favorite Lasagne alla Bolognese

May 20, 2010

One of my biggest culinary goals is to learn how to make my own pasta.  I know that for many of you this is a challenge long-ago conquered and you don’t even give the task a second thought now.  I’ve had my Kitchenaid Pasta Maker attachment for a couple years but sadly, it still sits unused in the drawer.  Life happens so these goals find themselves stepping down my priority ladder.  I’m confident that one day I’ll become well-acquainted with my pasta maker but until then, I’ll happily use my favorite dry pasta from Barilla (or De Cecco).

This week, my pasta of choice was lasagne.  I made a large batch of Bolognese ragù recently and I was lucky to have some leftovers to freeze.  Out it came from the freezer to join a simple béchamel sauce, thin sheets of Barilla lasagne, some cheese, and–voilà–dinner!  All I’ll need is a nice, crisp salad to complete the meal.

This is a simple, classic lasagne.  You won’t find ricotta cheese in it, although once upon a time I prepared mine with it.  The béchamel sauce takes its place and takes away the clumpy texture of the ricotta which never quite blends in.  I’ve probably just never used good ricotta cheese, and over time, I’ve grown to prefer the version below.

While this dish requires the separate preparation of its components, the finished product is well worth the effort for the comforting bites you’ll enjoy.  The ragù leads this dish but the creamy béchamel balances, softening the former’s meaty impact while finally, the pasta provides the toothsome anchor.  There’s not one flavor that dominates; they all work together quite nicely.  So, if you’re just a little lazy like I am, make the lasagne out of leftover ragù so that all that’s left to make before the meal is the béchamel sauce (soon the fresh pasta, too!) before assembling the dish.  This dish came together easily this afternoon, leaving me time to get a much-needed haircut (which I was lucky enough to be squeezed in for) and more importantly, to prepare this post for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights.  Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook hosts this week’s roundup.  Check out both sites for great cooking inspiration.

Lasagne alla Bolognese

*  This made enough lasagne to fill an 8 x 8 baking dish

  • Bolognese ragù, about 3 – 4 cups (my recipe here)
  • Béchamel sauce
  • Lasagne sheets (enough for three layers)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Béchamel Sauce:

*  Adapted from Mario Batali’s recipe here (halved in this case).

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg

1.  Preheat your oven to 375º.  Boil your lasagne sheets if using the old-fashioned kind.  Make sure your ragù is warm and ready and prepare the Béchamel.

2.  For the Béchamel, warm the milk in a separate pan and keep at just under boiling point.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  When melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Turn the heat up to medium and cook the mixture until you get a light amber color.  This will take about 5-6 minutes.  I use a flat whisk and stir almost constantly to prevent uneven cooking.  Add the milk in 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup increments, making sure the milk is combined well with the roux (flour and butter) before adding more.  When all the milk has been added, cook for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  The sauce will thicken slowly.  Remove from heat and add salt (to taste, but I ended up adding a couple of pinches) and freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon).

3.  To assemble, ladle some sauce into a baking dish. Grate a very thin layer of parmigiano (I also combined manchego cheese since I have so much of it right now).  Place one layer of the lasagne sheets, top with Béchamel, more cheese, then the ragù.  Continue with the layers (I ended up with three) until you’ve used all your ingredients, ending with a top layer of pasta, Béchamel and cheese.

4.  Bake for about 40 -45 minutes.  I found that covering the lasagne was unnecessary in this case since this made a smaller batch and thus, cooked more quickly.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2010 8:00 PM

    What a great idea to make a lasagna with Bolognese ragù! It sounds amazing!

  2. May 20, 2010 8:07 PM

    Great post and I’m sure one day you will use that pasta maker of yours. Mine sat around for almost a year before I got the courage to give it a try. You’ll do fine…whenever that is.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe with Presto Pasta Nights.

  3. May 20, 2010 11:41 PM

    Mouthwatering lasagna!

  4. May 21, 2010 9:40 AM

    Loving this recipe ! my family loves Lasagna! Bechamel sauce is a must for my younger sister which i do not mind at all 🙂 Thank you!

    • May 21, 2010 1:36 PM

      Lisa,
      It’s so easy–I became a convert to béchamel sauce because I like how smooth it makes the rest of the dish. I’m glad you stopped by. 🙂

  5. May 21, 2010 2:59 PM

    I’m already hungry for dinner, and seeing this delicious, cheesy lasagna may just do me over. Beautiful pictures and a great recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  6. May 21, 2010 5:08 PM

    This sounds totally delicious and your photo is beautiful

  7. May 21, 2010 8:01 PM

    Okay – I have not had dinner yet and looked at your post. This looks so divine. I must make this soon. Thank you for sharing!

  8. May 21, 2010 10:09 PM

    I made lasagne that looked almost just like yours (http://www.mangiodasola.com/2010/02/lasagne-al-ragu.html). Oh, I already know that this dish was amazing. I don’t like using ricotta in lasagne; béchamel definitely is the way to go in my book! I’m planning on using my KA attachment for fresh pasta soon as well. I don’t know what has taken me so long to use it! Love the photo!

    • May 21, 2010 10:35 PM

      Memoria, I don’t know why I’m so afraid to try it, but I will…at least you understand me. 🙂

  9. May 21, 2010 10:11 PM

    Oh, this reminds me of a beautiful lasagna I had not too long ago at a restaurant somewhere in So Cal! Beautiful and look: you made Top 9! Congratulations 🙂

    Like you, I have yet to tackle pasta making in my kitchen. One day, the courage will come…

    • May 21, 2010 10:38 PM

      Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know! How awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Wow, that just made my night. 🙂

      Okay, glad I’m not alone on the fresh pasta thing. I’ve got everything I need except the gumption. Soon…

  10. May 22, 2010 4:33 AM

    Lasagna is always super delicious. I love the traditional bolognese one, sometimes I make a vegetarian with carrots and cream. Mmm.

  11. May 22, 2010 11:12 AM

    Mmm. I love lasagna like this with bechamel sauce. Great recipe and a lovely photo too. Thanks!

  12. May 22, 2010 1:06 PM

    Delicious ! This is similar to how I make mine. I’ve used the best ricotta and still prefer the béchamel version. I’ve been meaning to make my own pasta but have not found the courage as yet. Thanks for sharing

  13. May 22, 2010 2:25 PM

    This is the way I was taught to make it and I make mine gluten-free now because of my husband’s condition.

  14. May 22, 2010 4:48 PM

    Beautiful! The photo makes me want to lick my screen!

  15. May 23, 2010 9:41 PM

    hello! great to meet you on the blogosphere.. .

    congratulations on being top 9 on foodbuzz no wonder because the photo above is absolutely beautiful… and it makes cravings for your lasagna on high level hahah! i like the bechamel sauce idea instead of ricotta… i would imagine it to be so “addicting” and i- can’t- stop- eating kind of dinner this lasagna would bring.

    xo,
    malou

  16. August 31, 2011 11:27 AM

    Have you seen whatever the most recent news happens to be in Dallas? Surely so wonderful.

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