Easy homemade lasagna is one of the dishes that can’t go wrong unless you decide to make a different dish for that day. One of the best dinner recipes in my family, lasagna is easy to make and you can enjoy the leftovers for 2-3 days. In fact, lasagna fans say that the more it stays, the better it becomes.
When my husband was away at work for a couple of days (or weeks), I used to cook less and enjoy more TV time alone at home. And some nights I used to buy lasagna from the Frozen aisle, a delicious lasagna “for 4 people”. I don’t exaggerate when I tell you I used to eat it all in one evening.
If you have experience making lasagna or you are still new and struggle to figure out in what order the lasagna layers need to be, keep reading, I got tips and tricks for everybody.
Ever since I found this lasagna recipe I never looked back. You can use fresh lasagna pasta or dried lasagna sheets. It works really well both ways and the cooking time stays the same.
How to make easy homemade lasagna
Lasagna is the name of the pasta that is wide and long. It can be flat or ruffled. In Europe, you mostly find the flat type and that is also the type I usually make at home.
The dish lasagna is usually layered pasta with Bolognese sauce, cheese, and Bechamel sauce. It sounds complicated, but it’s not.
When making lasagna, you need to have all 3 main ingredients at hand, in order to layer it.
What ingredients do you need?
- 500g minced meat (1 pound)
- 2 cans tomato paste (2 cups)
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 120g butter (½ cup)
- ½ liter milk (2 cups)
- 50g flour (¼ cup)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For finishing the lasagna:
- 10 lasagna sheets (1 box lasagna sheets)
- 1 Bolognese sauce
- 1 Bechamel sauce
- 450g shredded mozzarella (2 cups)
How to make Bolognese sauce
Start with the bolognese sauce. Bolognese is a tomato and meat sauce that has no special flavor, but it is tasty and is great in this dish.
In order to make the Bolognese sauce you need a mix of minced pork and beef meat. You can use only pork but be advised you will get a sauce rich in fat. I don’t recommend using just beef, because the end result will be a little too bland.
After selecting the meat, you have to have a quality tomato sauce. Ideally, you have a homemade crushed tomato sauce, but you can use store-bought cans of tomatoes, or just tomato sauce or a Passata di Pomodoro. Feel free to also use tomato paste diluted with water.
And last but not least, add a good healthy amount of salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.
In order to prepare the Bolognese sauce, take a non-stick pan or the pan of your choice and place it on a medium fire on the stove. Add the minced meat and separate it with a wooden spoon, making sure all the meat cooks evenly. Depending on the type of minced meat you use, you will get water and oil. Make sure you cook the meat until all water evaporates. You will then have the meat and the fat. Remove the fat if you think it’s too much. Add the tomato sauce and cook for another 40 minutes, with herbs and spices, until you get the Bolognese sauce.
You can store this sauce for up to 4 days in the fridge. It is great in a lasagna or as it is with pasta, for a quick, homemade dinner.
While the Bolognese sauce is cooking, you can start preparing the Bechamel sauce.
How to make Bechamel sauce
Just 3 ingredients and 2 spices are all you need for this sauce, and of course, some dexterity with the whisk.
Cut a cube of butter and add it to a hot small pan. Add the flour and mix it well. This is the famous roux, which is the base for the bechamel sauce. Pour the milk slowly and mix well, making sure to prevent lumps from forming. Add enough milk to make the sauce thick but not too thick and allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes mixing continuously, in order to remove the taste and texture of flour.
Add a little bit of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. My husband always asks why my bechamel sauce is not white. And that’s why: I like to add a little nutmeg, just because it gives it a tiny refreshing taste. But, of course, you can skip it if you don’t have nutmeg or don’t like the taste.
What lasagna sheets to use
When it comes to lasagna sheets, you can use dry, store-bought fresh lasagna sheets or make them yourself. Since the pandemic, we only go shopping once a week and we don’t always have access to fresh lasagna pasta, so we use dried sheets when the time is tight.
Trust me, in the end, it’s not that important. The taste will be the same.
The biggest question is do you have to boil the lasagna sheets.
The short answer is NO. But it depends on how moist your sauces are. Because uncooked pasta will need some moisture to cook.
If you follow this recipe, you will see that there is no need to cook the pasta sheets before.
What kind of cheese to use
The original Easy Homemade Lasagna Bolognese recipe is with parmigiano reggiano. You can of course use it, or you can do like me and use mozzarella. I like to use mozzarella because it is easy to find in all stores and you can use fresh or matured mozzarella, it’s delicious with both. In fact, a lot of places in Italy add mozzarella in their lasagna recipe.
How do you layer the lasagna?
The best way to layer it and to make sure that you take advantage of the specificity of each sauce is to start with the lasagna pasta, add the meat sauce, add the white bechamel sauce, and after that add the mozzarella. Then, repeat the steps, making sure you finish with mozzarella, in order to get the precious golden crust that every lasagna lover adores.
How long to cook Easy Homemade Lasagna
In an ideal world, you have time to cook every sauce and then immediately assemble the lasagna and add it to the heated oven. In this case, cook it for 45 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
Since the sauces are already cooked and warm, there is no need to keep the lasagna in the oven for longer than that.
If you want to make it ahead and bake it when it’s still cold, add half an hour to the cooking time, or maybe double it if you have a large lasagna. In this case, it would be best to cover the lasagna with aluminum foil, to prevent the mozzarella from getting burned.
The lasagna is cooked when the cheese on top starts to brown and becomes bubbly.
My lasagna recipe is made with mozzarella, but as I said earlier you can also use Parmigiano or even ricotta. The traditional Lasagna recipe, Lasagna Napoletana, uses ricotta as a cheese instead of the bechamel sauce.
It is an ideal party dinner recipe, paired with a rich red wine. Or you can make it ahead and enjoy it over the course of several nights.
What is the difference between lasagna and lasagna bolognese?
The classical lasagna recipe, like the Bolognese one, uses a meat sauce and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. The similarities stop here. The difference comes in the sauce, whereas the classic lasagna does not use Bechamel sauce. Instead, the meat is mixed with fresh ricotta to bind the filling. Also, for the classic recipe, one can add salami, fried meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, etc. in the filling.
Both lasagnas are traditional Italian. Both recipes appeared at the same time, in different regions of Italy. The classical lasagna appeared in Naples. That’s why it is very often called Lasagna Napoletana. The Bolognese Lasagna appeared in Bologna.
Now, this also answers the question “Is lasagna Bolognese a genuine Italian dish?” The answer is, for sure, yes!
Can you freeze lasagna Bolognese?
The short answer is yes. Now, you can freeze uncooked lasagna or the leftovers from the cooked one.
For the uncooked version, just layer it in a tray and place it in the freezer. This works perfectly if you are preparing in advance for a big dinner or party. One day before the event, take it out of the freezer and defrost it in the fridge. Once it’s done, add it into the preheated oven and follow the normal cooking time.
Regarding the leftovers, you can place them in the freezer and reheat them again when you want. When you want to reheat them, just defrost them a few hours before and cook again in the oven for roughly 10 minutes. You can grate some additional cheese on top to melt.
What wine goes with lasagna Bolognese
As a true Italian, you should also enjoy a glass of wine with the Easy Homemade Lasagna Bolognese. But what is the perfect wine to pair with? The folks at Wine Folly recommend Arneis. The grape for this wine is difficult to grow, but done correctly the wine will work perfectly with the Bechamel sauce and cheese of the lasagna.
Do you love to cook with seasonal fruits and vegetables? Please share your experience with us, comment below, or tag @basilbunch.blog on Instagram and hashtag it #basilbunchblog. We would love to see your creation!