Take a rich and delicious bolognese and layer it with silky pasta sheets and a bechamel sauce. Lasagne bolognese might be labor intensive but when you sit down and cut into those glorious meat and cheese filled layers, all that work will melt away. It's comfort food at it's best and I hope you give it a try, would be very impressive for a dinner party.
Hello! I feel quite daunted writing this one up. It's a labor of love to make this lasagne bolognese but to me it's so worth it. Try and enjoy every step and I will outline how you can get ahead and make some shortcuts. This lasagne won't be something you make all the time so organise some lucky friends and family to come and enjoy it with you, you'll be the most popular person ever.
This was born out of creating my best bolognese sauce. It's a slow cooked flavour packed sauce, absolutely perfect for this lasagne bolognese. I also considered using my beef cheek ragu, which I will try at some stage. It would also be absolutely amazing using my white pork ragu as the meat layers, I have a lot of lasagne to make it seems! For now I wanted to keep it classic with this bolognese version.
Lasagne vs lasagna
There are two different spellings. I have used lasagne as it is the most traditional Italian spelling. Quite simply, lasagna is the singular 'noodle' and lasagne is plural. Lasagna with an a seems to be the American adopted spelling.
I have made my own fresh homemade pasta sheets using my easy homemade pasta dough, but this is completely optional. Store-bought lasagne sheets are absolutely fine, especially if this is your first time making it. You might not be able to get the tall sides that create the crunch but it will still be delicious.
I have used my best bolognese recipe because as the title suggests, it's the best. It is slow cooked on a very low heat for a few hours so this can be done a couple of days ahead if you wish. It's a mix of ground pork and ground beef and cooked with white wine and milk instead of tomatoes. It's actually the authentic way to make it. Tomato paste adds enough tomato flavour.
Lots of lasagne recipes have ricotta cheese but I just prefer a classic creamy white sauce made with butter, flour, milk and parmesan cheese. You can put some mozzarella cheese on the top layer if you wish.
Assembling the Lasagne
This is actually the part that is the most fun! You can't really go too wrong, just make sure your layers are nice and evenly spread out. For the pasta you can either have the sheets going up the sides of the dish to create really crispy edges or trimmed to fit the dish. I do a bit of both. This is how I assemble the lasagne.
- Grease your baking dish with butter. My dish is 35cm x 24cm.
- Spread 1 cup of bolognese into the bottom of the dish and spread out into an even layer
- Layer two of the fresh pasta sheets next to each other, to create one layer of pasta. They should overlap in the middle slightly but it doesn't matter if they don't. If you want the crispy bits at the sides then don't trim the sheets down to fit the dish.
- Layer 1 cup of bolognese over the sheet of pasta, followed by ½ cup of bechamel (or a touch more!) then a dusting of parmesan.
- Keep alternating pasta, ragu, bechamel and parm. You should end up with five layers of pasta. The first two layers of pasta I overlapped up the sides, the middle two I trimmed down to just fit within the dish then the top one I overlapped up the sides again. Do whatever you like depending how thick you want the crispy bits up the side.
- When you are up to the third layer of pasta grate a single layer of lemon zest on top of the ragu before adding the bechamel. Don't skip this I promise it adds such a lovely flavour note.
- After the 5th layer of pasta you will do a final layer of ragu (this should finish it off) then 1 cup of bechamel and the additional 100g of grated or crumbled parmesan evenly dusted over the top layer.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 mins. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 mins or until cooked through, the crispy edges have browned and the top is bubbly and golden brown.
- Open some red wine while you let the lasagne firm up for 15 - 20 mins before cutting and serving. With an extra dusting of parmesan!
The lasagne bolognese schedule!
Making a lasagne is relatively straight forward it just requires a bit of planning. Here is the order in which you should tackle it.
Make the bolognese - The bolognese a) needs to slow cook for hours and b) will improve overnight so make it the day before. This really is a must otherwise you'll literally spend a whole day in the kitchen. When you cook the bolognese you want to cook it long enough that it is really thick, there shouldn't be much liquid left.
In the fridge it will solidify slightly, so I suggest reheating it gently on the stove (with a tiny splash of water if it needs) and then leaving to cool to room temp while you prepare the pasta and béchamel. This is what the bolognese should look like.l;./
Make the pasta - keep in mind you can store the uncooked lasagne in the fridge so start making the pasta as early as you want. You'll make the dough, rest it and roll it as normal. If you are using store bought fresh sheets then just get onto the bechamel.
Make the bechamel - This is the last step so before you make it have everything else ready to go. Have the room temp bolognese in a pot, your pasta sheets layered up and the parmesan you need. Preheat the oven if you are going to cook it straight away and grease your dish. I like a really clear and clean bench top so have a good clean up if you need.
Assembly - This really is the fun part! You've done a lot of work so enjoy the layering! For the bolognese you'll need six equal lots to layer. I measured mine in cups and pretty much had bang on 6 cups. Measure it out into a big bowl if you want to be sure. If you have slightly more you could put a touch more in each layer. You'll have more bechamel than you need, so don't skimp. I did just over ½ cup for each layer and a full cup on the top.
A little note on the pasta. Making your own pasta dough is obviously delicious but it's a lot of extra work. I encourage you to make the pasta sheets if you are used to it but there is no shame in buying them. Fresh sheets are what I recommend and are really easy to find in supermarkets. The crispy bits up the side add a bit of presentational drama and crunch so definitely do that if you want! If you don't want them just trim your sheets to fit into the dish.
I divided my dough into 6 pieces then rolled those out into long sheets and cut them in half width wise. That gave me 12 sheets that were roughly 26cm x 15cm (10 x 6 inches). I didn't use them all but I wanted to have some extras incase I tore them or something went wrong!
I rolled the pasta to setting 6 on my marcato roller. Pasta in a lasagne is supposed to melt in the mouth which this definitely did. Next time I think I might roll to 5 just to see what that is like texture wise. Definitely don't do the thinnest setting, it needs more bite than that.
Blanching the pasta sheets
I do think this is a necessary step if you are using home made pasta. Get a really large saucepan of well salted water boiling and blanch two sheets at a time (more if you're really brave) for 30 seconds. Have your phone with a timer/stopwatch going. They sheets will fold and ball up a bit in the water but don't panic they will flatten out perfectly out of the water.
I had a colander sitting in my sink and fished the sheets out of the boiling water with a spider strainer (you could use a sieve too). You can use tongs but just be careful you don't rip the sheets with them. Pop them in the colander then run cold water over them. Flatten them out on baking paper and pat dry with paper hand towels.
Repeat this process until all your sheets are layered up between baking paper on a baking sheet. Yes, this part is a bit of a mission but if you aren't in a rush, just try and enjoy it!
Can you make lasagne ahead of time?
Yes! You can get it completely assembled then store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. Wrap it up tightly and store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It's best to bring to room temperature before baking. You could also freeze it at this point for around a month.
How do you reheat lasagne?
I think any kind of reheated pasta is going to be compromised in some way, be it texture or the sauce drying up. Reheating lasagne in the oven is the best way. Cover it with foil and pop it in a preheated oven at 180c (350f) for about 30 mins until heated all the way through.
Want some other recipes to try?
If you loved my best bolognese sauce and haven't tried my white pork ragu, add it to the top of your list! Maybe you need something quick and easy after this one though?! Check out my favourite cacio e pepe with olives and basil or my very popular creamy tomato pasta sauce.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE it if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print