Classic Baked Lasagne
Published by Knopf
Lasagne was born in the north of Italy—Emilia, to be precise—but today it is a national dish. In the past, we always made the pasta by hand for lasagne, but now we buy it fresh or even use dried. And let us tell you a secret: in every good food shop, you can find good-quality, already-prepared fresh lasagne, or good-quality dried lasagne. You may not be the Queen of the Kitchen, but any time you make lasagne, you are a princess for sure.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party
Recipe CourseMain Course
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and TextureCheesy, Creamy, Meaty, Rich, Savory, Umami
Type of DishBaked Pasta
- Butter for greasing the baking dish
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground veal
- 2 cups vegetable broth, more if needed
- ½ cup Fresh Tomato Sauce (or bottled sauce)
- 1 large carrot, cut into four pieces
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or more to taste)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1½ pounds fresh lasagne or 1¼ pounds dried lasagne
- 1 cup (about 3 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing at the table
- A nut-size piece of butter (about 2 tablespoons), cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13-×-9-inch baking dish.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to soften. Turn the heat up to high, add the veal, and cook until the veal loses its pink color. Reduce the heat and add the broth, tomato sauce, carrots, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water (or broth) to cover and mix the ingredients well. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so and adding more water or broth if the pan becomes dry. Turn off the heat, discard the carrots, and adjust the salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Pour the veal ragù into a large mixing bowl.
To make the béchamel, melt the 8 tablespoons of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, being careful not to let it brown. Add the flour all at once, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter absorbs all the flour, about 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Cook, still whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium and bring the béchamel to a low boil. Cook at a low boil for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the nutmeg and take the béchamel off the heat. If you have lumps, stir very quickly to remove. Pour the béchamel into the bowl with the veal ragù and stir to mix them together. When you are boiling the pasta, add a ladleful or more of hot pasta water to the ragù to loosen it.
Place a clean dishtowel on your work surface for draining the lasagne after they are cooked. Bring a large soup pot of water to a boil. Stir in a small fistful of salt and add the lasagne about 4 at a time—it’s important that they don’t touch in the pot—and cook until the pasta is al dente. Lift the lasagne out of the pot with a slotted spoon and lay them carefully in 1 layer on the dishcloth. Cover with another damp dishcloth and continue until you have cooked all the lasagne.
Place a layer of lasagne over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Rip the lasagne into smaller pieces to fit into the edges and corners. Spread a layer of the veal-béchamel sauce evenly over the lasagne and sprinkle with a light layer of grated Parmesan cheese. Continue until you have used all the ingredients. Scatter the butter pieces over the last layer.
Place the lasagne in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately in the same pan you cooked it in, with grated Parmesan at the table.
2005 Wanda Tornabene and Giovanna Tornabene