I’m madly in love with lasagne – I think it’s one of the tastiest and most ingenious culinary recipes ever invented. Since my family likes it a lot too, I tend to (re)make it quite often. Therefore, I thought I should share with you this experience whose result is a robust pan of lasagne 100% homemade. Lasagne (with its Italian pronunciation lazania) is an Italian type of food, which contains layers of pasta especially made for this dish, ragù sauce and béchamel sauce, topped and gratinéed with mozzarella cheese. The name lasagne al forno, meaning “oven-baked lasagne” is common too, especially since it’s a characteristic of this dish to prepare it in the oven.
Needless to say, the lasagne is exceptionally good, being a delightful feast for everyone.
Ingredients for Lasagne
- homemade pasta – made out of 3 big eggs, a pinch of salt, 150g of regular flour and 150g of whole wheat flour/hard flour
- béchamel sauce out of 1l of milk, 100g of butter and approx. 100g of flour, salt and white pepper
- ragù sauce – bolognese, out of 3 onions, 2 carrots, 1 celery as big as an egg, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 150ml of dry red wine, 1 can of tomatoes in juice (the juice included), 600g of minced meat (a mixture of beef and pork), salt, pepper, bay leaves, basil, 2 garlic cloves
- 200g of mozzarella – sliced or grated
- 2 tomatoes (optional) – sliced, to decorate
- butter to grease the lasagne pan
Lasagne with homemade pasta sheets – how to make it?
Ragù alla bolognese sauce
For making this beautiful lasagne, start with the ragù alla bolognese sauce, about it being said that the longer you boil it the better it gets. Heat the oil in a sauce pan or a suitable frying pan and add the finely chopped onion and the crushed garlic.
Once the onion is soft add the chopped carrots and celery (I used the food processor).
Braise the vegetables for a few minutes (to taste you can also add mushrooms – the taste of my food would have allowed me to add some but I didn’t have any) then add the meat, mixing carefully to separate and spread it uniformly.
After the meat turns lighter in colour, add the red wine, the basil (mine was dry), a bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Cover and let it boil at a very low temperature for at least an hour, keeping in mind that some ragù recipes even go so far as to recommend a cooking time of 4 hours.
When I talked about raviolli, I had already bragged about my pasta machine from my godparent Jenica.
I made the pasta for the lasagne with the help of the same machine, after kneading a hard and homogenous dough from the specified ingredients. I divided the dough in several pieces/lumps the size of an egg, sprinkled it with flour and rolled it through the pasta machine:
Let the pasta rest and air dry for a short while; check the ragù sauce and add the tomatoes together with their juice.
Squash the tomatoes in the sauce and boil at a low temperature for at least another hour making sure that there is enough liquid; if necessary add a little hot water.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (5 litres at least), add a tablespoon of salt and finally the pasta.
Don’t boil the pasta any longer than 2 minutes, drain the sheets immediately and lay them on clean kitchen towels.
Check the ragù sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Prepare the béchamel sauce.
Switch on the oven and set to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a moderately large and deep lasagne pan thoroughly greased with butter or margarine, pour a layer of béchamel sauce (one ladle, picture 1). Cover with a sheet of pasta (picture 2) which you then need to cover with one more layer of béchamel sauce (picture 3). Pour a generous layer of ragù alla bolognese sauce on top (picture 4).
Continue assembling it in the same order: pasta layer + béchamel sauce + ragù sauce (in my case it resulted in 5 pasta layers and 4 meat layers). The last layer needs to be pasta on top of which you need to pour the remaining béchamel sauce. Optionally, you can decorate it with tomato slices and sprinkle fresh or dry basil on top.
Seal the lasagne pan with aluminium foil and bake it in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. After the time is up, remove the foil and distribute mozzarella cheese or hard cheese on top, either sliced or grated.
Put the lasagne pan back in the oven and bake it (uncovered) until the cheese melts and starts to brown to your taste. My lasagne is completely browned, to my daughter’s taste.
Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes and serve warm. I cannot tell you how good it is – it simply melts in your mouth (and that’s not just a figure of speech)!