I would say that 95% of Italian people would think about sundays with their families whenever they hear the word “LASAGNE”. I guess it’s because of the amount of time you need to cook them, that most people eat it only on major holidays or on sundays. As usual, each region has it’s own recipe, in southern Italy they add boiled eggs, peas, chunks of meat, but I find it very hard to digest, so I prepare the basic recipe made with tomato sauce with meat, white sauce and mozzarella. If you like lasagne you should definitely try to make it at home, it’ll be a totally different experience!
You just need some time… let’s say 4 hours…if you want to make your own pasta, but if you’re not in the mood for kneading, you can use the dried pasta you buy in the stores, you will save a lot of time and if you choose a quality product no one will taste the difference.
The trick to make lasagne with dried pasta is to make a very liquid white sauce and tomato sauce, so the pasta will absorb the excess water during the cooking process and will double in size. (keep it in mind when laying the pasta sheets onto the tray.. )
Sundays With The Family – Authentic Italian Lasagne
400gr of minced meat (pork and beef) or 400gr of pork ribs
3 italian sausages
½ celery stalk
400ml of water
2 tablespoon of oil
A glass of red wine
For the white sauce:
1lt low fat milk
30gr of butter
4 tbsp of regular flour
a pinch of grounded nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
300gr of mozzarella cheese
150gr of grated parmigiano
For the home made pasta:
Prepare the sauce: chop finely the onion, the carrot and the celery. Heat a sauce pan, add the oil and the veggies and let them cook for a couple of minutes. If you like you can add chili pepper. Add the minced meat (or the pork ribs) and the sausages and stir fry until the meat changes color. Add a glass of red wine and let it evaporate. Add the tomato puree and the water, mix well then add the salt and pepper and let it cook for about a couple of hours at low heat. Stir from time to time and check the sauce, if it’s too dry add a little water.
Prepare the bechamel. Make a roux melting the butter in a pan with the flour. Transfer the roux in a bowl. Then bring the milk to a boil, pour it on the roux while stirring with a whisk to make the mixture melt. Pour the milk back into the pot, add the grounded nutmeg, salt and bring it again to a boil while stirring. It will start to thicken. Boil for a few minutes, until it becomes thick as a cream. Remove from the stove and cover with a plastic wrap. Lay the wrap onto the surface to avoid drying.
Prepare the pasta: put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the beaten eggs and start to incorporate the flour with a fork.
Knead the dough with your hands until it’s smooth. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes, covered with a plastic wrap. Roll the dough with a rolling pin until it’s 2mm thick. Cut the pasta into rectangles (10x15cm).
Cook the pasta: bring the water to a boil, add salt and cook a few sheets of pasta at a time for three minutes. In the meantime prepare a large bowl with icy water. Drain the pasta with a kitchen tong or a fork and put it into the water to stop the cooking process.
Prepare the saucepan with the tomato sauce, the bowl with the pasta, the white sauce, the mozzarella cheese chopped finely and the parmigiano near the baking tray (40x30cm) where you’re going to cook the lasagne. Start by spreading a spoonful of tomato and white sauce on the base of the tray (if you used pork ribs remove them from the sauce before starting to assemble the dish). Then layer the pasta until the bottom is covered. Add a ladle of tomato sauce, white sauce, sprinkle some parmigiano and a little mozzarella cheese. Keep layering all the ingredients. If you want a crispy lasagna you should add more parmigiano on top and less on the inside.
Cook the lasagna in the oven at 200°C (about 390°F) for about 45 to 55 minutes. It depends on how crispy you like the top.
Elisa Gennari was born and raised in Rome, with a true passion for home made food. Her goal is to share her ideas about eating delicious food while still staying healthy. In her blog she teaches her secrets on how to cook Italian recipes, always with a healthy twist.