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Traditional Lasagna


 

 
A good homemade Lasagna recipe should be a part of of every home-cook's repertoire!  Its something that is very easy to make, and which most people love to eat.  Italian comfort food at its very best. 

Its one of those things that can very easily be made up ahead of time and it freezes like a dream.  With tender pasta noodles, a deliciously meaty tomato sauce, a rich cheese filling and bechamel topping, this easy lasagna recipe I am sharing today has been a firm favourite in my home for many years.


My original recipe was adapted from one of these Junior League cookbooks. I can't tell you which one exactly as they are both packed away at the moment.  This is the ABSOLUTE best lasagne recipe.

I love Junior League cookbooks. They are filled to overflowing with fantastic recipes. You really can't go wrong with them. 


When I worked at Brenchly Manor as a Chef, my boss had a whole library filled with Junior League cookbooks. She loved entertaining and quite often many of the recipes she wantd me to use for her ladies lunches or for dinner parties came from one of her Junior League books. 

The original recipe for this makes enough to feed 8 people. That makes it a great meal option for the larger family. I have cut it in half for a smaller family.  
 
It does freeze well however, so often, if I make the larger amount, I will break it down into two dishes, freezing one for another time.


It really never hurts to have something like this in the freezer, ready to pull out when you need a tasty meal at the last minute for unexpected guests, or if you are feeling a bit lazy. 

Have you seen the cost of those frozen lasagnes in the shops? And, most of the time (in my experience anyways), they are quite disappointing. I have never tried a frozen lasagne that tastes or even comes close to the flavour experience of a really good homemade lasagne.



And this is a really, really REALLY good homemade Lasagne.  A lot of people are afraid to make a lasagne. They think its really complicated and it really isn't. How to make lasagna is not a great mystery.

Its just a combination of a really good meaty tomato sauce, some pasta, cheese,  and in this particulary tasty version, a lush ricotta filling.  
 
I also have taken to adding a rich Béchamel sauce for on top in the European manner. I had never experienced this prior to going to Europe.


Once you have the meat sauce made and the bechamel made, making this lasagne is as simple as layering everything in a baking dish with the pasta and ricotta filling.

Admittedly it is not a cheap dish to make, but it is well worth any expense in my opinion. It was my ex sister in law who first introduced me to lasagne. It was not something I had actually grown up with.


Linda made an excellent lasagne. Whenever she came to visit it was something we all wanted her to make and then, when we lived closer to each other and would have family get-togethers, her lasagna always figured large on the menu.

She made a cottage cheese filling for hers.  I prefer to use ricotta cheese myself. Its very simple.  Ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan, garlic and seasoning. Almost exactly what Linda made, but a bit richer.


The meat sauce is really well flavoured. I use a combination of beef and spicy Italian sausage.  You can use fresh tomatoes in tomato season , but most of the time I use a good quality tinned tomato. Buy the best that you can afford to buy.

You can also use a good ready made pasta sauce with the meat if you really want to cut down on your cook-time. There are some nice sauces out there, but if you have the time I really recommend making the sauce from scratch.


One thing you really don't want to skip however is the bechamel sauce on top.  This is in the Italian style and it really adds something special to the whole mix.  If you can make a sauce for macaroni and cheese, you can make a basic bechamel. 

Making your own lasagne may seem a bit time consuming, but really if you break it down into individual elements, each one is relatively easy to do and any time taken is well worth the effort because you end up with a fabulously tasty dish at the end.


I like to think of this lasagne as being the best of both worlds. It not only has a tasty bechamel on the top and in the middle, but a delicious layer of ricotta cheese in the middle as well! 
 
Combine that with a delicious meat sauce and lotsa lotsa cheese and you have got yourself one heck of a great lasagne!!

Easy Homemade Italian Lasagne

Easy Homemade Italian Lasagne
Yield: 4
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 45 Mincook time: 35 Mintotal time: 1 H & 19 M
This is the best lasagne! Sometimes I do cheat and use a store bought tomato sauce. You can get some very good ones these days. It’s well worth the effort of making your own though! This is a lasagne that you will find yourself thinking about long after you’ve eaten it . . . longing for yet another delicious slice.

Ingredients

For the Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup (60g) butter
  • 2 TBS plain flour
  • 1/2 cup  (120ml)milk
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) chicken stock
  • 1 chicken boullion cube (optional)
  • pinch of salt
For the Cheese filling:
  • 1 small free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (1/4 pound/113g)  ricotta cheese
  • 3 TBS finely grated Parmesan Cheese
  • pinch  freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4  tsp salt
For the meat sauce:
  • 1/4  pound ( 4 ounces/115g)extra lean ground beef
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces/115g) spicy Italian sausage meat
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or canned tomatoes, drained)
  • 3/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
You will also need:
  • 1/4 pound (4 ouncs/115g) lasagne noodles (I use fresh or no cook)
  • 3/4 cup (135g) grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces/65g) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Butter to dot on top

Instructions

  1. First make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until slightly softened. Add the meats and brown them well. Add the tomatoes and spices and simmer on medium/low heat until the sauce is quite thick, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. While the meat sauce is simmering make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for about one minute longer.
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk and the chicken broth. Cook, whisking, until it starts to bubble and thicken. Taste for seasoning. You may need to add the boullion cube for additional flavour. Add salt if needed.
  4. Make the cheese filling by whisking together all the ingredients with a fork. Set aside.
  5. Once you have all the sauces prepared and the filling ready, pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6.
  6. Spoon a bit of the meat sauce into a 7 X 10 inch baking dish. Layer on as follows: half of the lasagne noodles, half of the remaining meat sauce, 1/4 cup of the Béchamel sauce, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, half of the Mozzarella cheese and half the ricotta filling. Top with the other half of the noodles and repeat the layers once again. Dot the top with butter and bake in the pre-heated oven , uncovered for at least 30 minutes or more, until bubbly and starting to brown.

notes:

You can double this recipe if you want and bake in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. You can make this ahead of time and chill, covered, until needed. It also freezes very well! I like to serve it with a salad and some garlic bread on the side.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #EnglishKitchen
Easy Homemade Lasagne This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at: mariealicejoan at aol dot com Thanks so much for visiting. Do come again! 

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Marie Rayner
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1 comment:

  1. I love a good, home made lasagne and this sounds so good - I can almost smell it. I complicate the preparation further by making my own pasta, but it's worth it as the result is always great.

    As you point out, if you make a full batch, you can freeze it ready for another day, so when you divide the time you spend by the number of serves you get from a large baking dish, then it's very cost effective.

    I've not made lasagne for a while now - I might have to rectify that soon as this is perfect weather for something warm, cheesy and comforting.

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