Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or just Sunday, don’t be surprised to find lasagna on my family’s table. My absolute favorite lasagna is very traditional; lasagna bolognese with bechamel sauce. When it comes to a great lasagna, it’s all about the meat sauce. With the help of Colavita, I’ve created my best version yet.
I’ve been using Colavita olive oil for years. Seriously, years. To start off my meat sauce, I fried the pork, beef and pancetta in Colavita’s extra virgin olive oil. Next, I used their roasted garlic oil (this stuff is amazing!) to sauté the mirepoix. Colavita’s crushed tomatoes rounded out the sauce, taking it one step closer to the ultimate lasagna.
Instead of using ricotta cheese in this dish, I went the classic Italian route; creamy, bechamel sauce. Although no matter what, I need to sneak some cheese into my lasagnas. So don’t worry, there’s mozzarella and parmigiano to please you cheese-lovers out there.
- Servings: 8-10
- Time: 4 ½ – 5 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
For bolognese (can be made 2 days ahead)
- 2T Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil;
- 1lb ground pork;
- 1lb ground beef;
- 4oz pancetta or bacon, finely chopped*;
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped;
- 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped;
- 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped;
- 2T Colavita Roasted Garlic Oil;
- 2T tomato paste;
- 1C dry white wine;
- 1C whole milk;
- 1-28oz can Colavita Crushed Tomatoes;
- 2C low sodium beef broth, plus more as needed;
- 2 bay leaves;
- 2 sprigs of thyme, tied with kitchen twine;
- 1C freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided;
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
For béchamel (can be made 1 day ahead)
- 5T butter;
- ¼ C flour;
- 3 ½ C whole milk, warmed;
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg;
- Kosher salt and white pepper.
- 1lb lasagna noodles;
- 8oz mozzarella cheese, grated**;
- Chopped parsley, for garnish.
- Preheat oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add pork, beef and pancetta, season with salt and pepper, and break up using a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally until well-browned, up to 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Using a food processor, finely grind carrots, celery and onion. Reduce heat to medium and add roasted garlic oil to the pan. Add vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Stir frequently so they release most of their liquid but do not brown, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in reserved meat mixture along with juices. Pour in wine, increase heat to high and allow to reduce until most of the liquid is evaporated, 5-6 minutes. Add milk, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
- Add in tomatoes and broth, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Be careful not to over-season as sauce will become saltier as broth reduces. Stir in bay leaves and thyme.
- Partially cover, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 2 ½ – 3 hours, or until flavors deepen and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. If sauce becomes too thick, thin out with additional broth or water. When cooked, stir in ¼ cup of parmesan and taste for seasoning. Discard thyme and bay leaves.
- While sauce simmers, prepare the béchamel. Add butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. When foaming, stir in flour. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in a ½ cup of warmed milk at a time until combined. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until you reach the consistency of a cream sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to boil. Add lasagna sheets and cook until easily pliable, about 2 minutes under al dente. Drain and lay out in layers on a baking sheet between silicon mats or lint-free towels.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. For assembly, grease a 13×9 inch baking dish with butter. Ladle in a thin layer of béchamel to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay over lasagna sheets, followed by more béchamel, a layer of bolognese sauce, a light sprinkling of mozzarella and a sprinkling of the reserved parmesan. Repeat with remaining noodles, for 5-6 layers total. Coat top layer with béchamel and a healthy grating of parmesan. Bake uncovered in the center rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Cover pan during last 10-20 minutes of baking if topping reaches desired golden color. Allow lasagna to rest about 20-30 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley and serve with additional cheese, if desired. Enjoy.