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Italian basil pesto lasagne al forno
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5 from 20 votes

Italian Basil Pesto Lasagne al Forno (pesto lasagna)

This Italian basil pesto lasagna can be made really quickly with store bought basil pesto, béchamel sauce and lasagne sheets. Or, you can make everything yourself. Either way this is hands down the best meatless lasagna recipe I know. Perfect for summer meals and as a starter. If you love pesto, you'll swoon over this traditional Italian dish! #pesto #lasagna #authenticitalianrecipe
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Liguria, Mediterranean, Northern Italy
Keyword: basil pesto, lasagne al forno, Liguria, pesto lasagna
Servings: 6
Calories: 781kcal
Author: Jacqueline De Bono


For homemade pesto

  • 50-75 g fresh basil leaves (2-2.5 oz) rinsed and dried
  • 1-2 garlic cloves peeled
  • 70 g Parmigiano Reggiano (2oz) grated (or vegetarian parmesan)
  • 35 g Pecorino from Sardinia (1.5 oz) or just Parmigiano (or vegetarian parmesan)
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil. (3.5 floz) or as required
  • 30 g pine nuts (1oz)

For homemade béchamel

  • 100 g unsalted butter (3.5oz)
  • 100 g '00' or all purpose flour (3.5oz)
  • 1 Lt fresh whole milk (about 4 cups) you may need more
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg

Other ingredients

  • 200 g fresh thin lasagne sheets (7oz) I used 10 sheets for 4 people or dried pasta sheets
  • 50 g Parmigiano Reggiano (2oz) for baking (or vegetarian parmesan)
  • salt to for pesto and béchamel to taste
  • 12-15 thin slices provola cheese 3-4 per layer except the top


Make the pesto.

  • BASIL LEAVES If it’s possible, choose medium sized young leaves (brighter green). Rinse the leaves under water and dry them well with paper towels.
  • Basil pesto the traditional way.
    Peel the garlic cloves and put them into a mortar and crush. Then add the pine nuts.  Grind until you have a paste. Then add some basil leaves, and a little coarse salt, and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Keep working with the pestle, while continuing to add more basil leaves and olive oil until the pesto is smooth. Finally, transfer to a bowl, add the cheeses and stir well.
  • Using a blender/ food processor
    Put all the ingredients in the blender and pulse a few seconds at a time until you have the right consistency. Don’t keep pulsing for too long at once as the blender will heat up and this can spoil thebasil.

Make the béchamel.

  • Put the butter in a pan over a low heat, melt it, add the flour and mix until it forms a thick paste (roux), then remove it from the heat. At this point, slowly add the milk and stir continuously to dissolve the roux without making lumps. 
  • Put the pan on a moderate to low heat and keep stirring constantly until it starts to simmer and thicken. Lower the flame, wait a couple of minutes, then turn it off. 
  • Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg, mix it again for a few minutes and then allow it to cool to thicken it further. You can also leave it in the fridge. If the béchamel seems too thick when you are ready to assemble your lasagna, add some more milk to it. Stir well to incorporate.

Prepare the pasta if using dried or slightly thick fresh pasta sheets.

  • Partly cook the pasta in boiling salted water to which you have added a little olive oil. This stops the sheets sticking together. Once the pasta is half cooked, remove and place separately on a tea towel until you assemble the lasagna. You may have to cook the pasta sheets in batches.

Assemble your basil pesto lasagna.

  • Spread some bèchamel over the bottom of your oven dish. Cover it with pasta sheets. Spread another layer of béchamel on the pasta and add some pesto to it. Spread the pesto too. Add some slices of provola (if using). Then do another layer of pasta, then béchamel, then pesto and provola. Continue till you have 4-6 layers, depending on the size of your dish. Finally, cover the top with just béchamel or béchamel and pesto and sprinkle with a generous layer of grated Parmigiano.

Finish and serve.

  • Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check the pasta is cooked by piercing with a sharp knife. Cover and set aside and let the lasagna rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Strict vegetarians will need to replace the pecorino and parmigiano with vegetarian parmesan as these Italian cheeses contain animal rennet.