Friday, October 9, 2009

Authentic Italian Lasagna

I have had the pleasure this week of having a real, live Italian staying in my house.

My husband served his mission in Italy and made some great friends, one of whom has been our houseguest for the past week. It has been a pleasure to brush up on my rusty Italian language skills and learn this fabulous recipe.

Marco went to culinary school, but this is a family recipe, and Marco makes lasagna just like his father does. It's a simple recipe, consisting of two sauces, pasta, and parmesan cheese. I hope you find it as lovely as we did!

Marco's Lasagna


1 1/2 9 oz. pkgs lasagna noodles (the kind that are rolled flat)
parmesan cheese

-Ragu- (red sauce)
olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1 lb. ground beef
3 large cans pureed Italian (San Marzano) tomatoes - you can find these at specialty stores like Granatos
salt and pepper to taste

-Béchamel- (white sauce)
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
1 quart/4 c. milk
a dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
salt and pepper


In a large saucepan or pot, sauteé onions together with carrot and celery. Add ground beef and cook until browned through. Add in tomato puree and let simmer until veggies are cooked through and sauce is thickened -- this will splatter, so beware and wear an apron! Season to your taste.
(This also makes a LOT of ragu, so use what you need for tonight's lasagna, and freeze the rest for use when you make it again.)

In a separate saucepan, combine melt butter over low/med-low heat. Add in flour and stir. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, lightly golden and mixture no longer smells like raw flour. Add in milk all at once and stir or whisk to combine and remove lumps. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened (it should be thick enough that it coats the back of your wooden spoon).

Once sauces are ready, begin assembling lasagna:
Put down a layer of ragu in a 9x13" pan.
Layer uncooked noodles on top. Break pasta where necessary to help it fit into the pan.
Then layer ragu, then bechamel, then a generous amount of parmesan cheese.
Repeat until pan is full (or you run out of pasta).
On top of the last layer of pasta, spread bechamel and top very generously with parmesan.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Enjoy!

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