This classic recipe for baked lasagna is the ultimate comfort food.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Emilia-Romagna, Italian, Northern Italy
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, baked pasta recipe, Bolognese, lasagna, lasagne al forno, pasta bake
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
3tbspextra virgin olive oil
1onionpeeled and finely chopped
2carrotswashed and finely chopped
2celery stalkswashed and finely chopped
100mlwhite or red wine ( I used white)(3.5floz)
200mlfresh whole milk(6floz)
200mlbeef or chicken stock(6floz)
400gfresh tomatoes or tomato passata (I like to use half and half)(14oz)
pepper to taste
For the béchamel (white sauce)
100gall purpose flour (3.5oz) sifted
For the finished dish
90gParmesan cheese(3oz) grated
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.
Preparation times include the time needed to make the bolognese and béchamel sauce.