Lasagna Bolognese is a typical dish of Emilia Romagna, in particular of the city of Bologna. It’s a famous main course, a symbol of Italian cuisine in the world.
In Italy Lasagna Bolognese is a typical Sunday lunch dish or the main course for festivities and anniversaries. It’s appreciated by adults and children for its flavor, rich and tasty.
It’s made with layers of fresh lasagna sheets, Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese. So, there are three different recipes, which you can make at different times: for example you can make Bolognese sauce a few days before and freeze it; the sheets of fresh pasta and the béchamel sauce can be made the day before. After you have prepared them, you can start assembling the layers of this delicious and rich Italian dish.
Lasagna Bolognese is a first dish very rich and nutritionally complete. For this reason it’s often served as a main dish. You can even make it a day before, cooked and left in the refrigerator ready to gratinate. Lasagna Bolognese is so good that leftovers are delicious even the day after.
Lasagna Bolognese Recipe
For 600 g (1,3 lbs) of Bolognese Sauce (total time: 2h 30 min)
You can make Bolognese sauce even 2/3 days ahead and keep it in the fridge. You can also freeze it and defrost before use. (See the complete and detailed recipe here)
- 300 ml of meat stock
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or 50g (1,70 oz) of butter
- salt and pepper
For 500 g (1,1 lbs) of fresh lasagna sheets (total time: 1 h)
You can make them while cooking bolognese sauce (See the complete and detailed recipe here)
- 200 g (7 oz or 2 cups) of “00” Soft Wheat Flour
- 200 g (7 oz or 2 cups) of durum wheat flour
- 4 eggs of at least 70 g (2,5 oz) each (1 egg every 100 g of flour)
For 500 ml of bèchamel sauce (total time: 15 min)
Make it at the end, after Bolognese sauce and fresh pasta (See the complete and detailed recipe here)
- 50g (1,7 oz) of all-purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
- 200 g (7 oz) of grated Parmigiano cheese
How to Make Bolognese Sauce
Are you ready to make some delicious homemade lasagna bolognese? So first you have to make Bolognese sauce, this delicious dish made with minced meat, soffritto and tomato passata, useful for seasoning any type of pasta, so make plenty.
Step 1) – Start cutting the pancetta into cubes first and then chop it very finely. Set aside. Make the soffritto: cut the carrot, celery and onion in very tiny pieces. The more the better. In a saucepan with high edges and thick bottom place the extra virgin olive oil (or butter if you like) and the chopped vegetables. Sautè for 2/3 minutes over medium heat. Then add the ground beef and the pancetta. Mix with a wooden spoon and cook until all the meat is well cooked (from 10 to 20 minutes).
Step 2) – When you see that the meat is cooked add the white wine. Mix gently until it has completely evaporated. Then add the tomato passata and a little bit of stock if the sauce is too thick.
Step 3) –Season with salt and pepper then add the milk to dampen the acidity of the tomato. Stir and cover with a lid. Cook slowly over low heat for about 2 hours.
Step 4) – Bolognese Sauce will be ready when you can see an oily, creamy sauce on the surface.
How to Make Lasagna Sheets
While Bolognese sauce is cooking, you can make fresh lasagna sheets. It will take about an hour. Here’s how to do it.
Step 5) – Place the flour on the kitchen table or try this non-slip silicone mat that sticks to the table for rolling dough and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well. With the help of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together.
Step 6) – Now you have to knead and work the dough with your hands for about 10 minutes. Pay attention: if the dough is too soft and sticky, add flour; if it is too hard and with too much flour yet, add water. This is the hardest work but it’s necessary. If you don’t knead the flour with the eggs very well, the dough will be soft when cooked and not al dente as it should be. After ten minutes, make a big ball and wrap it in a cling film. Let it rest for 15/30 minutes. The cling film is usefull not to dry out the dough and let it go crusty around the edges.
Step 7) – Now the dough is ready and we have to make lasagna sheets. Start removing a piece of dough as thick as an orange, dust it with flour and roll it by hand using a long wooden rolling pin. This is only to make it easy what will come later. Take a pasta maker machine (make sure that it’s clamped firmly to a clean surface), then roll the thick sheet of dough through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Remember to dust the pasta dough with flour if you feel it’s becoming sticky.
Step 8) – Fold the pasta in three and repeat the process for 4/5 times. You have to work the dough till it’s smoother. Now roll the dough through all the settings of your machine, from the widest to the narrowest, until it reaches a thickness of 1 millimeter.
Step 9) – Finally, cut the fresh pasta into rectangles and cook for 1 minute in plenty of salted water (add 1 tablespoon of oil to the water so that they do not stick to each other and some salt). Put them one at a time on clean dishcloths. Now fresh lasagna sheets are ready.
How to Make Bechamél Sauce
Step 10) – In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat then add the flour using a flour sieve while mixing it quickly with a whisk.
Step 11) – Add milk while stirring rapidly. It must be cold and should be added at once. Cook while mixing until you have a fairly thick consistency (about 10/15 minutes). The bèchamel sauce is ready when it sticks to the spoon. Finally, add a pinch of salt and grated nutmeg.
Now that we have made all the main ingredients, we can start assembling the layers of our lasagna bolognese.
step 12) – Spread on the bottom of a baking dish two tablespoons of bechamel and two of bolognese sauce.
Step 13) – Then place the first layer of pasta sheet. Now add two tablespoons of bechamel and two of bolognese sauce, then sprinkle with two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Finally place the second layer of pasta sheet.
Step 14) – Repeat these steps for at least five layers (lasagna sheet, bolognese sauce, bèchamel and parmesan cheese) and in any case up to fill your baking dish. Finish by covering the last layer with plenty of Parnesan cheese that cooking will make a crispy crust.
Step 15) – Bake at 190° (380F) for about 30 minutes. Let cool Lasagna Bolognese out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Lasagna Bolognese
It’s possible to make ahead lasagna recipe: it can be made a few hours earlier, for example early in the morning to bake them for lunch, but even the evening before. In this case, wrap it in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. When you want to cook it, you must leave it at room temperature for half an hour: in the meantime, preheat the oven to a cooking temperature of 190° C (380 F).
How to Freeze Lasagna
You can freeze lasagna bolognese both uncooked and cooked. In both cases you will get an excellent result by following these tips:
- Freezing uncooked lasagna: for example you can make a lasagna pan or two and want to freeze to have them ready for the next time. These is typical when you have a dinner or lunch with many guests and you want to make ahead the main dish. So just defrost the lasagna the night before so that it thaws perfectly and the cooking in the oven remains uniform. Then bake at 190° (380 F) for about 30 minutes.
- Freezing cooked lasagna: if you have a cooked lasagna pan or some portion leftovers you can think of freezing them. In this case you will have to let the lasagna cool before freezing. When you want to cook them, just defrost some hours ahead then bake at 190° C (380 F) for about 30 minutes. Just cover the surface with aluminum foil to prevent it from further toasting.
For both freezing options it’s better using fresh products that have not already been frozen.
Lasagna Bolognese Variants
In Italy, almost all regions have their own version of the lasagna recipe. Let’s see some of them:
- mountain areas bolognese sauce is made often with mushrooms
- In Liguria, with pesto sauce
- In Veneto with red radish of Treviso
- In Umbria and in Marche, there is a particular version, the “vincisgrassi”, in which the bolognese sauce is enriched with chicken and prepared with coarsely chopped meat, béchamel is denser and, as spice, clove
- In Sicily there is even the Lasagna version called “alla Norma”, with grated eggplants
- At last, there is Sardinian Lasagna, made with “carasau” bread.