This recipe was written by my boyfriend and blogging partner in crime Stefan. With his busy schedule he doesn’t cook that often, but when he does it’s usually something Italian. -PJ
When PJ asked me to cook for her, I didn’t want to make it too easy on myself. I decided to make lasagna from scratch apart (from the pasta sheets). Slowly stewed meaty tomato sauce and creamy homemade bechamel, so simple it doesn’t have to come from a box.
Granted it’s not a quick recipe, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
- Ingredients for the tomato sauce
- 350 gr. ground meat (beef or half beef half pork)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped or crushed
- 1 small can of tomato puree
- 1 can of cubed tomatoes
- ⅓ of a tomato can filled with water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Ts oregano
- Salt and pepper
Pour a bit of oil in a pot with a thick bottom ideal for stewing. Slowly caramelize the onion and garlic until golden brown. This will give the onions a lovely sweet flavor.
Add the ground meat and loose until browned. Try to let as much moisture evaporate as possible so you really get some color on the meat.
Once nicely colored, add the tomato puree. Fry off the acidity for a couple of minutes, then add the canned tomato cubes, oregano, bay leaf along with a third of a can of water. Add salt and pepper to taste and let the sauce simmer for about 1.5 hours with lid ajar. Stir every 15 minutes or so, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
- Ingredients for the bechamel
- 40 gr. butter
- 40 gr. flour
- 400 ml. milk
- Some freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
Once the tomato sauce is ready, take it off the heat and start to make the bechamel. Slowly melt the butter in a pan with a thick bottom. Don’t let the butter brown or you won’t have a white sauce.
Add the flour once the butter has completely melted. Stir together, to a roux and cook this for about a minute on a low to medium heat. Add a quarter of the milk and stir into a smooth and firm roux. Don’t add all the milk at once or you might get a lumpy bechamel.
Once all the milk has been stirred in, add the rest of the milk. Stir until smooth and thickened to about as thick as runny yoghurt. Finish to taste with some freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and turn off the heat.
- Other ingredients for the lasagna
- ±50 gr. Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
- Lasagna pasta sheets
Now that the tomato sauce and bechamel are done, it’s time to build the lasagna. Pour a bit of tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish. Use enough to completely cover the bottom with a thin layer. Spread a layer of bechamel on top. This doesn’t have to completely cover the tomato sauce. In fact, too much bechamel could make it too stodgy.
Sprinkle the bechamel with some freshly grated cheese. and cover with the pasta sheets.
Repeat the layers and end the top layer with tomato sauce, bechamel and cheese. Make sure that the last layer of bechamel does cover all the tomato sauce.
Cook the lasagna at 180–190°C/360–370°F for 40 minutes. The cheese and bechamel will form a beautiful golden crust. Let this cool for about 15 minutes so you won’t be eating hot lava.
The tomato sauce can be made well in advance, the bechamel however should be made fresh. I made this lasagna in a glass rectangle cake tin enough to serve 2 to 3 people.