Many Italian dishes are very popular throughout the world due to their simplicity and mouthwatering taste. Among them lasagne is queen. This dish is simply a crowd-pleaser! It is an extremely versatile and could be easily changed to suit your taste.
By adding few new spices and ingredients to the basic ones you can easily create your own unique signature dish. The basic lasagne recipe calls for pasta, minced beef, tomato sauce and béchamel sauce. But, to say it again, there are just so many incredible and tasty combinations you can go for that it’s not worth limiting yourself with just the traditional ones. Talking about them, the most popular ones are: vegetarian, chicken lasagne, sausage lasagna or my favorite white lasagna with assorted cheese.
Lasagne is also a very convenient dish – you can prepare the filling in advance when you have the time and it will get even better the next day. When making béchamel sauce you can prepare a double quantity and use it as a base for another (more elaborated) sauce or dish, such as chicken with broccoli. You can even assemble the lasagne and put it in the freezer and bake it later, when you need it. Now tell me, how many dishes you know that offer this kind of liberty?
I’m sure I could’ve give my lasagna an even deeper flavor and richness, if I make the lasagna sheets myself and I am just hoping I will reach this level one day. Until then, I will continue using the ”lasagne emigliane di Barilla”, because I’m happy with the final result, and so are my family and friends.
Serves: 4 (large portions)
Preparation & cooking time: for the ragù: 1,5 – 2 hours; assembling: 10 minutes; baking time: 25-30 minutes
For the ragù:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
300g veal, ground
300g pork, ground
50g pancetta or streaky bacon, chopped
1can (400g) chopped tomatoes
¼ can (100g) concentrated tomato puree
1 tsp fresh basil leaves
1 tsp paprika
30ml olive oil
50ml red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional for the ragù:
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
150g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
250g Lasagna sheets – I use Barilla’s “La collezione”, and need usually 10-12 pasta sheets for 4 servings. (They don’t need blanching)
For the ragù:
In a very large heavy-bottom pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, and over medium heat simmer for about 5 minutes, till the vegetables are soft, but not completely cooked. If you’re going to use carrots and celery, add them together with the onions. Add the bacon, veal and pork to the vegetables and brown them over medium to high heat, stirring to break up the big pieces of meat. When the meat is brown, add the paprika and the wine and give the mixture a good stir. Add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato puree (you can dilute it with some water – now or later, if the ragù get too thick). Season with salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour or more. Before removing from heat, add the chopped basil and stir well. Taste to check if it needs a little more seasoning.
Meanwhile you can prepare the béchamel sauce – see recipe here.
When the ragù is ready you can assemble the lasagne. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F degrees.
Butter the sides of an ovenproof pan (25 x 35 cm). Spread a ladle of béchamel on the bottom of the pan, cover it with lasagna sheets, then distribute evenly some of the ragù, cover with béchamel and sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese. Continue in that order, making 4 to 5 layers of pasta, finishing with béchamel and a good handful of the Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven; allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, slice and serve.