Lasagna Bolognese

September 11, 2018
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

My love of cooking definitely comes from my family—everything was always fresh and homemade growing up. This lasagna bolognese is very close to my heart; it's a recipe that I learned from my mother many years ago and I've kept it in regular rotation in my house ever since (you can even find it in my kids' lunch boxes). If you're feeling really ambitious, you can make your lasagna sheets from scratch, but if you don't have time, just pick up a few fresh lasagna sheets from your local store. The key to this recipe is the from-scratch Italian red sauce and the béchamel, which gets its rich creaminess from organic milk and plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (there's never too much cheese in an Italian lasagna). —Anna Francese Gass

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Lasagna Bolognese
  • Serves 6 to 8
  • To make the bolognese sauce:
  • 1/2 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (plus 1 clove finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional, and more to taste)
  • 8 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 pound organic ground beef (93% lean)
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • To make the lasagna:
  • 4 cups bolognese sauce
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups organic dairy milk, warmed
  • 9 lasagna sheets (or 1 package fresh lasagna sheets)
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano cheese, plus 1 cup
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. To make the bolognese sauce:
  2. Make the red sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil with basil and garlic (add the crushed red pepper flakes for a spicy sauce). On very low heat, allow the basil and garlic to simmer in the olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes. This steeping process will allow the olive oil to become fragrant. Be careful that garlic gets toasted brown, but not black. Remove from the heat and strain the aromatics, saving the olive oil. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, pour in the tomato sauce and the water. Add the tomato paste, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the reserved olive oil into the sauce and mix to combine. Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and allow sauce to simmer for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes. (This recipe yields about 8 cups; you will only need 4 cups to make the bolognese.)
  5. Make the bolognese: In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and brown the pancetta in the pan until crisp. Then add the onion and garlic. Maintain low heat to cook onions and garlic until translucent, being careful not to brown.
  6. Increase the heat to medium-high and add ground beef, breaking it up with the side of a wooden spoon, incorporating the onion and garlic as you work. Allow the meat to brown until almost cooked though and all excess liquid has evaporated.
  7. Deglaze the pan with wine and let it cook until the meat is aromatic and the wine has reduce by half.
  8. Add 4 cups of the red sauce and the bay leaf to the pan; reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours until the sauce has become very thick.
  9. Remove the sauce from heat and add mascarpone cheese, mixing it to melt it and create a slightly pink hue.
  1. To make the lasagna:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Make the besciamella: In a large pot, melt the butter. Add flour and whisk until a light brown roux forms. Slowly add warmed milk, whisking constantly until a thick sauce is created. It should coat the back of a spoon. Add 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Add the besciamella to the bolognese sauce and mix gently to combine the two.
  4. In a large lasagna pan (9 x 13-inch works best), add a layer of your sauce. Place three lasagna sheets down. Cover layers with more meat sauce and continue this process until all the sheets are used. The top layer should be a thick layer of sauce and then grate additional parmigiano on top. Cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, you can add fresh mozzarella and place under the broiler for another 5 minutes or just sprinkle a bit more parmigiano on top and serve. I prefer the latter.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sara G
    Sara G
  • Gloria Hart
    Gloria Hart
  • Tenni W
    Tenni W
  • Anna Francese Gass
    Anna Francese Gass
  • Elizabeth Detrich
    Elizabeth Detrich
Cookbook Author. Heirloom Kitchen.Food52 contributing editor & Recipe Tester.