Canada's Best Lasagna Recipe
There are so many scrumptious lasagna recipes out there that it is hard to decide which is the best one. If you are like me, I will take a basic recipe and then add ingredients to it. The ingredients added are those I feel will taste good at the time, therefore, never creating the exact same flavours as before.
There are many different types of lasagna that one can try, however, let’s first begin with the origin of lasagna. Depending on what part of the world you are from will determine if you pronounce it lasagna or lasagne. Lasagne means more than one sheet of lasagna, which is a sheet of flat pasta, possibly being one of the oldest types of pasta known. Lasagne, or the singular lasagna, commonly refers to a culinary dish made with stacked layers of pasta alternating with sauces and ingredients such as meats, vegetables and cheese, and topped with melted grated cheese. The term “lasagne” is used virtually everywhere, whereas, “lasagna” is primarily used in North America.
There is some controversy on where “Lasagne” originated from. Most historians believe it originated from Italy in the Middle Ages from Naples and that the first recorded recipe was in the early 14th century found in Liber de Coquina (The Book of Cookery). The traditional lasagna made in Naples, lasagna de carnevale, is layered with sausage, hard boiled eggs, small meatballs, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and topped with a meat sauce, or Neapolitan Ragù. Another great sauce, other than meat sauce, that is often used in lasagna is Béchamel sauce, a rich white decadent sauce that can be found in different regions of Italy. Seems even the Italians have different varieties of the former recipe.
The other theory behind lasagne’s origins is that it is rooted from ancient Greece. The word “lasagne” stems from the Greek word “laganon”, which is a flat sheet of pasta dough cut into strips. Despite where lasagna or lasagne came from, it has become a staple in our lives and we are grateful that it was invented wherever that may be. Who doesn’t like the cheesy goodness of a great plate of lasagna!
Since lasagna is such a popular dish, there are many varieties of this mouthwatering main course. We have traditional and vegetarian versions that have also become mainstream. Other varieties are chicken, eggplant, spinach and zucchini to name few. The key to making a great lasagna is one that fulfills your heart, soul and most importantly your taste buds!
My favourite recipe is one that I have been making for a long time and have taken liberties with the ingredients along the way….it is a Lasagna Bolognese with Béchamel Sauce! Though this recipe is not quick and easy, once you make it, you will always make it over and over!
Lasagna Bolognese with Béchamel Sauce Recipe
- 4 ½ Tbsp olive oil
- ½ lb. of lean ground beef
- ½ lb. Italian ground pork
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/3 cup finely minced onion (brown or yellow onion)
- ¾ cup finely diced carrots and celery
- ¼ cup red wine (optional) (I usually us a Cab or Merlot, whichever one I am drinking at the time)
- 1 can tomato paste with herbs (3 Tbsp)
- 1 tsp. salt (or to your taste)
- ½ tsp. ground pepper
- 2 cups of low salt chicken broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 ½ Tbsp. minced fresh Italian parsley
- Pinch of crushed red peppers (optional)
This sauce is to die for when paired with a Bolognese sauce. You may want to double the recipe so that you have extra sauce to pour over your slices.
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- salt and ground white pepper
- pinch of ground nutmeg (I tend to do about 2-3 pinches of nutmeg, depending on my mood)
- Enough lasagna noodles to make four layers in a 13x9-inch baking pan with the lasagna pieces overlapping each other a little bit. I like to use ½ spinach lasagna noodles and ½ regular lasagna noodles. You can also use whole wheat if you prefer.
- Recommended ~16 sheets of your favorite brand of Italian lasagna noodles. You can use no-boil or boil. I prefer to boil mine as they are easier to manipulate when layering.
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Butter to grease the baking dish
- Basil leaves for garnish
- Butter your favourite Le Creuset baking dish (13x9) and set aside. This dish is a fave of mine since it has a lid which transports your favourite foods quickly and mess free.
- Finely chop (mince) carrots, celery, onion, garlic and parsley with a sharp knife. Set parsley aside. I tend use a chef’s knife for all of the chopping. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in your heavy All Clad Saucier pan over medium heat. Add ground beef and pork to the pan and fry until browned, stirring to break up meat into small chunks. I like to use a meat masher as it breaks up meat much faster than a spoon.
- Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots to the meat and stir in tomato paste. Stir until all is blended. Optional – add wine and combine with the meat sauce. Fry briefly with the meat. (Optional - For an added zing, sprinkle with crushed red peppers and mix well).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, pour in broth and parsley. Stir
- Let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Heat milk in a heavy All Clad Sauce Pan to almost boiling remove from heat.
- In another All Clad Sauce Pan, make roux by melting the butter and stirring in flour. Keep stirring quickly so that roux doesn’t burn and cook from 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly pour the hot milk into the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumping.
- Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Add nutmeg. Bring to boil over medium heat constantly stirring and then lower to a gentle simmer over low heat for 20 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently. Strain sauce if needed to remove any lumps. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Cook the lasagna according to instructions. About 8 minutes in 6 quarts of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse with cold water.
- Lay the individual lasagna noodles out on kitchen towels, not touching, so they do not stick together while you layer your lasagna.
Layering the Lasagna:
- Place a layer of lasagna noodles down first into your Le Creuset buttered baking dish. If you are using regular and spinach noodles, place them alternating, one spinach, one regular and so on.
- Layer on a third of the Bolognese sauce.
- Layer another layer of the lasagna noodles across the Bolognese sauce.
- Layer a third of the béchamel sauce.
- Repeat the layers of pasta, Bolognese sauce, pasta and béchamel sauce.
- Sprinkle the last layer of béchamel sauce with the Parmesan.
- Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 375° for about 30 minutes until the mixture begins to bubble.
- Remove foil and brown for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil leaves.
Serve with a salad, garlic bread and your best bottle of red wine! Buon Appetito!