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lasagna with bolognese sauce
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5 from 5 votes

Lasagne al forno with bolognese ragu

This classic recipe for baked lasagna is the ultimate comfort food.
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Emilia-Romagna, Italian, Northern Italy
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, baked pasta recipe, Bolognese, lasagna, lasagne al forno, pasta bake
Servings: 6
Author: Jacqueline De Bono

Ingredients

For bolognese

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots washed and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks washed and finely chopped
  • 300 g minced beef (10oz)
  • 300 g minced pork (10oz)
  • 100 ml white or red wine ( I used white) (3.5floz)
  • 200 ml fresh whole milk (6floz)
  • 200 ml beef or chicken stock (6floz)
  • 400 g fresh tomatoes or tomato passata (I like to use half and half) (14oz)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

For the béchamel (white sauce)

  • 100 g all purpose flour (3.5oz) sifted
  • 100 g butter (3.5oz)
  • 1 lt fresh milk (33floz)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

For the finished dish

  • 500g lasagne sheets (1.1lbs)
  • 90 g Parmesan cheese (3oz) grated

Instructions

Make the bolognese (this takes 2-3 hours)

  • Fry the vegetables in a little olive oil until they soften. (Some Italian chefs insist that the meat and vegetables be fried separately as they require different levels of heat)
  • In a separate pan fry the minced meat in heated olive oil over a medium heat until it begins to brown and then add the vegetables. (you can also cook the meat with the veg)
  • Add the wine and continue stirring. When the alcohol has evaporated, add the tomatoes and/or passata and the stock.
  • Lower the heat and leave to simmer partially covered for at least 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the milk, stir and continue to let the sauce simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • If you think the sauce is too liquidy you can remove the cover completely till it reduces. But if you are using fresh or uncooked pasta the sauce needs to be a little liquidy.

Make the béchamel (white sauce)

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, incorporate the sifted flour and mix everything with a wooden spoon or whisk until you have a paste (roux)
  • Cook the roux until it is golden, and at this point add the milk a little at a time, plus a pinch of salt and a ½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg. Continue to stir until the sauce reaches the consistency you want.

Cook the pasta

  • If you are using dried pasta sheets partly cook them in boiling salted water. You may want to add a little olive oil to the water so they don't stick together or cook them one at a time! 

Finish the dish

  • Then butter a rectangular baking dish and spread a little sauce on the bottom. Make a layer of lasagne sheets, cover them with a layer of sauce, some béchamel and a sprinkling of grated cheese. 
  • Then put another layer of pasta, then bolognese sauce, béchamel and cheese and so on until the ingredients are used up, leaving some béchamel for the final layer. 
  • Cover the last layer with béchamel sauce, grated parmesan and some butter flakes.
  • Bake your lasagne al forno in a preheated oven at 160 degrees for about thirty minutes. When the surface is golden and the pasta is cooked (check using a fork) remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. If using uncooked pasta it's a good idea to cover the dish with aluminium foil for the first 15 minutes as otherwise the top may get golden before the pasta is cooked.
  • Allow the lasagne al forno to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Notes

Preparation times include the time needed to make the bolognese and béchamel sauce.