Classic Italian Lasagna

I am back from Italy and am still seriously craving wholesome homemade Italian food. It’s bad. I went grocery shopping and wandered through the aisles just longing to be back in an Italian supermarket with the amazing, vibrant produce, the freshly baked breads, and a deli section that would blow the Publix deli out of the water.  But alas, here I am back in rainy Miami so I figured I would make the best of it and invite some girl friends over for dinner and make a nice lasagna.

Contrary to what many people might think, an Italian lasagna typically doesn’t have any cheese (except a bit of Parmesan). No ricotta, no mozzarella. I say typically because of course there are variations and there is no one exact correct way to make lasagna! Usually Italian lasagne use bechamel sauce–a simple white sauce that is characteristic of French cuisine but used often in Italian recipes. Also, in Italian all pastas are plural so you will also see it as “lasagne” on an Italian menu!

This is a bit time-consuming but it’s really worth it. Also, you can make the ragu a day or two ahead of time and stick it in the fridge. I personally think it tastes even better this way! I also cheat a bit and use the Barilla no cook lasagna sheets. Super easy and no fuss!

Here’s what you need:

Ragu–you can find the recipe here

1 package of no boil lasagna

1 serving of bechamel sauce

7-8 thin pads of butter for lasagna

4 tablespoons of butter for the bechamel

2 1/4 cups of milk

1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

a pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)

salt/pepper

grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Here’s what you do:

Make the ragu and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. To make the bechamel sauce you’ll need a large sauce pan and a whisk. Heat the butter until melted. Whisk in the flour to form a roux. While continuing to whisk pour in the milk. Over medium heat continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken-about 15 minutes. Season with salt/pepper/nutmeg.

Bechamel sauce should not taste floury! If the sauce is too thick then add more milk. If it’s too runny then add a bit more flour. It should have a pretty thick consistency.

In a baking dish layer the bottom with the no boil noodle. Then add a layer of ragu and then the bechamel. Smooth over with a spatula making sure to cover all the noodles and their edges. Place a few pads of butter in random places and grate some parmesan. Then start the layering process again. Finish with a layer of bechamel sauce and parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes and then stick it under the broiler to brown and crisp the top!

Happy cooking!!

-Melissa

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Categories: Main Dishes, Pasta/Italian, Recipes

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4 Comments on “Classic Italian Lasagna”

  1. August 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    I love lasagne beuacse it feeds a lot of people and it’s so delicious! I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like lasagne! I’d LOVE to try lasagne prepared by true Italian! =)

  2. peter
    July 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    I usually find that when the bechamel is too thin, it’s useful to melt some butter in a pan, add some flour and mix well, cooking the roux a bit to remove the floury taste. Then slowly add some of this mix to the thin bechamel, a little at a time until it thickens to your liking. Just adding flour (besides Wondra) will form clumps that are difficult to smooth out. I also like to add some raw spinach to the layers of the lasagna. It will cook when baking. What nice comfort food, Melissa!!

    • August 13, 2012 at 2:16 am #

      I know this can be very boring and you’re spikping to consequent comment, however I just wished to throw you a giant thanks you cleared up some things for me!

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