The very first time I tasted lasagna, I really liked it and I did not even know what it’s called and I thought that it was a really, really wide layers of cheese singles and meat sauce. As with any food that I like or has become a favorite of mine, I always look for a recipe so I can make it at home and eat lots and lots of it.
It seem complicated to make and can be overwhelming, take a look at the list of ingredients on any lasagna recipe and that would be enough to make your head spin. But there are few shortcuts I’ve learned through the years, that if I’d known before, I wouldn’t have had such a hard time making this dish the first time. I’ve always, always dreaded assembling those slippery noodles that’s why I don’t make this often enough. It’s also a bit expensive, takes a lot of time to make and it usually doesn’t last long enough; once on the table, it’s gone in 60 seconds. Yes, lasagna is so yummy but I don’t think it’s worth all the trouble so I only make it on special occasions. But that was in the past, I’ve since discovered an easier, less costly and healthier way to cook lasagna, no longer does my family have to wait for special days to have it.
I’ve always have success with this recipe, if this is your first time to make lasagna, you’re in luck, you don’t have to deal with slippery noodles and will not slave all day in the kitchen just to make one tray of lasagna like I did years ago. The bechamel gives it a really cheesy taste without spending a fortune. I hope that you’ll have a success in making this, your love ones will be proud of you.
I make my own basic tomato/ marinara sauce . I sometimes cook a large batch and keep it in the fridge but if this is your first time to make lasagna, I think it’s better to buy the ones in jars or cans.
EASY BECHAMEL LASAGNA
For the meat sauce:
1/4 k lean ground beef
1/4 k ground pork
diced onion/ shallots (about 1/4 cup, use more if you like onions)
ground pepper and salt to taste
a jar (26 oz) of spaghetti sauce
or 3 cups homemade basic tomato/ marinara sauce
3/4 cup water
the following are optional, since the sauce
already has these herbs (I just want a stronger flavor):
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
a dash of cinnamon
For the bechamel sauce:
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk (room temperature)
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of ground nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese or quickmelt cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese plus 1/2 cup grated mozarella
9 uncooked lasagna noodles/ sheets
1/2 cup mozarella, grated or quickmelt cheese
In a heavy non-stick saucepan, brown the ground pork and beef. Drain excess fat (if there’s any). Add diced onion and saute til transparent, add 3 cups of tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
While the meat sauce is simmering, make the bechamel sauce by melting butter in another heavy saucepan (4 qt),to this, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon or with a wire whisk for about 2 minutes to cook the flour, then slowly add the milk while stirring to prevent lumps. Keep stirring till all the milk are in, add in the grated cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper and a dash of ground nutmeg (if using). Cook until it is thick enough. To test the consistency, dip a spoon in the sauce and run a finger at the back of spoon, if a line is formed, and stays that way then your sauce is ready. Take off the heat and let cool.
By now your meat sauce is also ready. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
To assemble the lasagna: Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce at the bottom (to prevent noodles from sticking to it). Next, arrange 3 uncooked lasagna noodles then pour a third of the meat sauce on top (about a little more than 1 cup); since we’re using raw lasagna, make sure that you cover the surface completely, the liquid from the sauce will help cook it through. Next, pour 1 cup of bechamel sauce, I use about 1/3 cup for each pasta sheet, again, covering evenly, and sprinkle with 1/3 of grated cheddar/mozzarella mixture. You now have 1 layer of lasagna; repeat the layering step twice and sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese (topping) to finish.
Loosely cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Take the foil off and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly and a little browned. Turn off the oven and leave the baked lasagna inside for about ten minutes to let everything settle. Please note that it’s very, very hot so be careful. Let cool a bit before serving. Pair it with garlic bread. If you have extra bechamel and tomato sauce left, you can serve it on the side too!
Happy Cooking, Good Luck!