Birthday Lasagna

By • February 4, 2013 • 43 Comments


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Author Notes: This meat lasagna doesn't have any ricotta -- instead, it employs a bechamel for creaminess. Use fresh pasta if you can find it!Merrill Stubbs

Serves 6

Lasagna

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Salt
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 package no-boil (or the equivalent in fresh) lasagna sheets
  • 3/4 cups shredded fresh mozzarella
  1. To make the bolognese, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the ground beef, along with a couple pinches of salt. Brown the meat well and remove it to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the carrot and onion to the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for one more minute. Stir in the browned meat.
  3. Stir in the flour and then the red wine, if using. Add the tomatoes, stock and oregano and stir well to combine. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover the pan and lower the heat so that the sauce is just simmering. Cook until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded, at least half an hour and up to an hour and a half. (Add more stock or water if the sauce starts to look dry.)
  4. While the sauce is cooking, make the bechamel. In a medium heavy saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, and once the mixture starts to bubble cook for another 2 minutes, whisking frequently. Don't let the mixture brown.
  5. Whisk in the milk slowly and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and keep whisking until the sauce turns thick and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bechamel from the heat, cover and set aside.
  6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. To assemble the lasagna, spread a couple of tablespoons of the bolognese in the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch square baking dish. Add a layer of lasagna noodles, overlapping them slightly if necessary. Spread 1/3 of the bechamel evenly over the noodles, and then spread 1/4 of the remaining bolognese over that. Add another layer of noodles.
  7. Repeat until you have used all of the bechamel. Add a final layer of noodles and spread the remaining bolognese over the top. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top of the lasagna. Cover the lasagna with a sheet of parchment paper and then wrap the dish tightly in aluminum foil. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the noodles are just tender (test them by piercing the lasagna with a sharp knife).
  8. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees and remove the foil and the parchment. Return the lasagna to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until deeply browned and bubbling. Let the lasagna cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Bolognese

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • Splash red wine (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 cup beef stock or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Tags: bechamel, birthday, bolognese , lasagna

Comments (43) Questions (4)

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22 days ago crista

When a recipe calls for fresh shredded mozzarella, do they mean the white ball or the kind that comes in a block at the deli counter?

Merrill

22 days ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

In this case, the white ball!

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23 days ago (]Celia[)

I made this a few weeks ago and I'm still dreaming about it. Next time I'm going to quadruple the recipe, instead of just doubling. So perfectly tasty. I used regular lasagna noodles and precooked them, and added an extra layer - I'm very glad I did!

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26 days ago whmcdevitt

can you freeze this before you cook it? or should you cook, freeze it then reheat when ready to eat?
BTW the best lasagna I've or my friends have ever eaten!!!!! Amazing!

Merrill

26 days ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I would freeze it assembled but uncooked, and then bake it completely from frozen -- otherwise you'll end up with soggy, overcooked noodles. So happy you like the recipe!

Wrong_apple

29 days ago sevenfaces

This is my go-to recipe, it's simply brilliant! I double everything to fill my large baking dish, and I use half milk half water for the bechamel since I ran out of milk the first time I made it and no-one could tell... the bolognese makes up for it in flavour, I think it's as creamy and delicious as any lasagne I've ever had :)

Merrill

29 days ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you like it!

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about 1 month ago Tara Seeger

what is the caloric breakdown? I'm just curious if the béchamel substitution is higher in fat? I use skim ricotta normally, but am certainly willing to try this one!

Merrill

about 1 month ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I don't know what the caloric breakdown is, but bechamel will certainly be higher in fat than skim ricotta, since it has butter and whole milk in it. But it's delicious!

Sept2

2 months ago Sarah Clark

Yes! This is the best way to make lasagna! I use veal and white wine in my ragu and slow simmer it for 4 hours. No mozzarella, though. Just Parmesan sprinkled on top of the bechamel. I also like to make my own pasta when I can, but I use the no-boil sometimes, too.

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2 months ago Phillip

Oops! My bad.

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2 months ago Phillip

Recipe text refers to ground beef but quantity isn't provided under Ingredients.

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2 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Absolutely delicious. Perfect for people who prefer a non ricotta lasagna. Kept my carrots small dice. Easy and delicious. Made ahead and ate the day after. I did not use red wine, I cook for a recovering alcoholic, instead subbed an additional cup of broth with a few splashes of red wine vinegar. Tried & True! Thank you for a great recipe.

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2 months ago GSmodden

Upon having the first bite of this lasagna, my husband said, "I can never say yours is better than my grandmothers, but don't change a thing...youknowwhatImsayin'?" (wink, wink) And I won't. This recipe is perfect, and the best part is the browned, cheesy top.

Merrill

2 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Wow, so happy to hear it!

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3 months ago SBMCW

I thought béchamel and ricotta was a North (Milan) South(Rome/Naples) issue with lasagna. Comments?

Merrill

2 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Lasagna Bolognese is always made with bechamel, but Sicilian lasagna often calls for ricotta.

Stringio

3 months ago Rossella Rigamonti

Hi guys, I'm an italian girl and I can assure you that REAL ITALIAN lasagna are with bechamel...not with ricotta. You can also prepare lasagne in advance putting great quantity of bechamel sauce, cooking and letting it rest: the day after lasagna will be perfect! This is a typical sunday lunch in italy, traditionally cooked from mums and grandmas

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3 months ago makan

Made this tonight for my husband...on his birthday! He loved it. The recipe is easy peasy and wonderfully delicious. I did; however, add more tomato paste and red wine as I didn't have enough diced tomatoes. Absolute yum and part of the repertoire!

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4 months ago Leah Steinberg

Just made this lasagna and it was so delicious! I put in 2 lbs of beef because I had extra and didn't want it to go to waste and upped the tomatoes and water a bit. It was so easy yummy and easy! I made the bolognese last night and the béchamel and assembled today which was super convenient. Definitely will be a family favourite from now on.

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6 months ago maura condrick

I never made lasagna before because I don't like ricotta. But I love bolognese and I LOVED this dish. Also I don't have great kitchen skills, but found it pretty foolproof (me being the fool). Thank you.

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6 months ago paulo fickel

Fantástica receita! Adoro lasnha a bolonhesa"

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8 months ago kath1

This is how lasagne is usually cooked in UK. I haven't ever had the one with ricotta. If you like it check out Nigella Lawson recipe for pasta bake in Feast and also beef n beans in How to Eat (no sauce, but similar genesis).

Bride

8 months ago Jennifer Parks

Can this be made in advance, without sacrificing any of its perfection?

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6 months ago breadandbutter9

Did you try making in advance? How did it turn out??

Bride

6 months ago Jennifer Parks

I did and it was good, but not amazing. The bechamel seemed to thicken as it sat making it less creamy and luxurious than I had imagined. I'm looking forward to making it again but immediately before it is baked and served.

Stringio

10 months ago Gary Katona

sounds like a cross w/ patstitsio - a family fav

Stringio

about 1 year ago Ali Reeder

Complete with spinach pasta!! Oh my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I'll post the results tomorrow on FB.