i make lasagna once, and only once, each winter. and when i do, i make two large pans of it. one for now, one for the freezer. i figure if i am going to go to all the trouble of making it - two homemade sauces, all the layering and dirty dishes - then i may as well get a full four meals out of it.
but don't let the time and sheet volume of ingredients discourage you. this is the best lasagna. noticeably absent is ricotta. on purpose. we aren't big fans of ricotta around here, and once you have lasagna with bechamel instead of ricotta once, it's the only way you'll ever want it again. trust me.
bolognese adapted from giada de laurentiis, bechamel adapted from mario batali
makes one 9x13 inch pan
to make ahead, build the lasagna in the pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil and a layer of plastic wrap. freeze for a month, at the longest. remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost at least 24 hours before baking it. do not bake directly from frozen - especially if you use a glass pan, as the glass will shatter.
for the bolognese:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 carrots, diced
1/2 pound ground beef, meatloaf mix (my grocery store's mix is 80% beef, 15% veal, 5% pork), or 1 pound quartered mushrooms
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated romano or parmesan cheese
2 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 pound lasagna noodles, cooked, drained, and sitting in cool water
1 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
- make the bolognese. in a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
- add the celery and carrots. cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
- add the meat or mushrooms, and cook until meat is no longer pink or the mushrooms are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
- stir in the tomatoes, parsley, and basil. cover and bring to a boil. reduce to simmer and cook about 30 minutes.
- season with salt and pepper and stir in the cheese.
- make the bechamel. in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. whisk in the flour and cook, whisking continuously, until pale golden brown. while whisking, slowly pour in the milk. add the salt and nutmeg and whisk almost continuously, until it thickens.
- preheat your oven to 350F.
- to assemble the lasagna, pour a small amount of bolognese on the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan and spread around evenly. cover with a layer of noodles. top the noodles with about one quarter of the bolognese, then one fifth of the bechamel, and sprinkle with about one fifth of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. repeat the layers, starting and ending with noodles. spread the top layer of noodles with bechamel and the remaining cheese.
- spray one side of aluminum foil with nonstick spray (so the cheese doesn't stick) and cover the pan, sprayed side down. bake for about 1 hour, or until bubbly. let cool 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.