The best recipe for meat and cheese lasagna with homemade Bolognese sauce, ricotta, béchamel sauce and more!
For Meat Sauce:
1-lbspicy or mild Italian sausage
1medium onion, diced
4garlic cloves, minced
28-ozcanned diced tomatoes
1tspEACH: salt; dried basil
1/2tspEACH: fennel seeds; ground black pepper
1tbspEACH: fresh thyme; fresh rosemary, chopped
For Bechamel Sauce:
2cupsmilk, I use whole milk
1cupgrated Parmesan cheese
sprinkle of ground nutmeg
dash of salt and ground black pepper
2cupswhole milk ricotta cheese
1 to 2packages lasagna noodles
1cupgrated Parmesan, for topping
For Bolognese Sauce:
Prepare the bolognese meat sauce: preheat a large, deep saute pan over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil and the Italian sausage. Break up the sausage into small bits while browning. Once browned, add the onion and saute for a few minutes. Then add the garlic, spices and sugar; cook for a few minutes. Add the remaining sauce ingredients: wine, broth, tomatoes.
Stir the sauce to combine all the ingredients, then cover the pan with a lid and simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. I like to cook mine for an hour if I have the time for more flavor.
For Béchamel Sauce:
Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour. Whisk the flour and butter together to create a roux; cook for a few minutes. Begin adding the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking vigorously after addition. Mixture needs to be smooth after each addition and before adding more milk!
Season the sauce with a bit of salt, ground black pepper and sprinkle of ground nutmeg. Add in the Parmesan cheese and cook the sauce over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the cheese is completely melted. Remove the pan from direct pan and keep covered with a lid until ready to use.
Assembling the Lasagna:
Preheat oven to 350F/177C. To assemble the dish: grease a large, deep-dish lasagna pan. If using traditional lasagna noodles, precook them according to package instructions. Line the bottom of the pan with noodles. Spoon a generous amount of prepare meat sauce and spread to edges. Follow with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of bechamel sauce. Add a layer of noodles, then spread 1 cup of ricotta cheese and top with a small amount of the bolognese. Alternate the layers with bolognese and ricotta.
Add a final layer of lasagna noodles and spread the remaining bechamel sauce over the top. Sprinkle top with ground black pepper and additional 1 cup Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Bake lasagna in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until top is set and edges turn golden brown. If sauce starts to come out the edges, place a sheet of foil under the pan or wrap it. Remove lasagna from oven and let stand for 30 minutes before portioning and serving. Lasagna will be extremely hot out of the oven; be careful!