Now this is a recipe was brought to life when I was young, I liked to make Lasagna but I didn’t understand the reason why it always seemed like such a hassle and so complicated. I watched my Mom, my Grandma, Aunts, Friends, Cooking shows, and read tons of recipes; and what I found that all had in common were: Ragù (tomato and meat sauce), Besciamella (Beshamel), Mozzarella and Lasagna. Now in this recipe I make a lot of shortcuts, but the outcome is amazing. I serve this dish just about anytime I have house guests, when I go to visit my in-laws; etc… people just seem to love it! My husband loves it, and I love it. So why not share it with you. I hope that you enjoy this meal, and remember you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make this dish, now you can make it whenever you want. In this recipe I use spinach lasagna, but the regular ones are fine also, what I do think is important is that I use the no-boil lasagna; generally ‘Barilla’ is the brand I have used since the first time I made Lasagna.
This dish is complete. If there is something you want to serve before as an appetizer I suggest a nice crudités of vegetables, or a small salad. I would say to always serve something light, you don’t want people to be stuffed before they even eat the lasagna, and then this way you also have all the food groups in one meal; protein, carbs and veggies. If you want to serve dessert, I suggest a nice sorbet or a light and fluffy Tiramisu, a chocolate soufflé or something that is going to help the digestive system.
Remember this is a delicious way to indulge in lasagna, it’s not heavy as the ones that I have seen made while living in the States, it’s more traditional to what you will find here in Italy, mainly the North where lasagna originally comes from.
For the Ragù:
1 medium onion (peeled)
3 tbsp Olive oil
1/2 lb. Ground beef
1/2 lb. Ground pork
1/4 cup red wine
25 oz. tomato sauce
salt to taste
red chili flakes (optional)
For the Besciamella:
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup white flour
1 cup of milk (I use non-fat)
1/2 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. mozzarella
1/2 cup parmiggiano
500 gr. spinach lasagna*
Start off by making your Ragù, first heat the olive oil in a medium pot or large saucepan, then add your onion cut in half, the onion serves just to give the aroma you will remove it later this is why I don’t chop it. After the onion starts to turn soft add the ground meats, cook until brown at which point you will add the bullion, once you bullion has dissolved add the wine and let simmer for about 8 minutes. You may now add the tomato sauce and your salt and red pepper flakes. Put at a low flame and let simmer, stirring occasionally.
Now you may cut your mozzarella in small cubes, or you can grate it. Once this is done, preheat your oven to about 350 degrees and lets start our besciamella.
Get a 2 qt pot, put over medium flame and melt your butter, when butter is melted remove from heat and add your flour (it should turn into a thick ball), Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming, when you have added milk add your water, salt and pepper to taste. It will be very liquid return to low flame and stir constantly, about 8 – 10 minutes. It will start to thicken up slowly, stirring constantly will help it not burn or get lumps. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
You may turn off you Ragù and remove onion.
In a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, spread some of the ragù sauce, arrange pasta sheets side by side until the bottom of the pan is fully covered. Evenly spread a layer of your besciamella sauce, and a layer of the mozzarella. Arrange another layer of pasta sheets and spread a layer of the ragù sauce. Arrange another layer of the pasta sheets and add another layer of besciamella sauce, and then a layer of the mozzarella. Arrange another layer of the pasta sheets and spread another layer of the ragù sauce, add all the parmiggiano evenly over the Ragù. (you may add another layer depending on how deep your pan is, or you can leave it like this just remember the final layer has to be Ragù and Parmiggiano.)
Place the lasagna in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes to 30 minutes, until top is bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes. You may serve.
* if using regular lasagna follow cooking instructions on the box. What I generally do is place aluminium foil on top of baking pan place in oven for about 30 minutes, until top is bubbling. Then I remove foil and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Just make sure to read the instructions on the box to avoid over cooking or under cooking. Cooking time may vary just because I’m in Italy, although it should be around the same.