My Classic Lasagne
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Lasagne is an Italian layered pasta dish - utterly decadent, delicious, and surprisingly forgiving. I also find that lasagne gets better with age (and I don't mean your cooking experience!), overnight the flavours meld together and intensify making for a lovely next day lunch, or snack, or hangover breakfast...
My classic lasagne is a little different... having been vegetarian for the better part of my life, mine is usually vegetarian. However, I've also made fabulous chorizo, beef, and pork lasagnes that are definite crowd pleasers! In the future I may update this recipe to include some of these variations, but for now please enjoy this simple one.
INGREDIENTS: LASAGNE SAUCE
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large onion or 2 medium, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped (don't worry about peeling)
1/2 cup of eggplant roughly diced and salted (patted dry)
2 zucchinis grated
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
¾ cup dry white wine
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes or 1 jar of passatta
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 packet of dried lasagna sheets
INGREDIENTS: MORNAY SAUCE
This is a basic béchamel base, with cheese added.
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1 cup of parmesan or cheddar, coarsely grated (and a hand full reserved)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
I start everything by making a mirepoix of celery, onion, carrot, butter and EVOO in a shallow cast iron (30 cm) or large saucepan on medium heat. Braise these vegetables for at least 10 minutes until onion is translucent before adding diced garlic, oregano, thyme or any other aromatics you wish to add. This is the time you should also add a good pinch (or two) of salt and pepper.
Next add your zucchini and eggplant and braise for 2 minutes before adding you tomato paste while stirring constantly.
When the tomato paste darkens, after about 2 minutes. Add wine and simmer for another minute or so this is to deglaze the pan.
Add the canned tomato tomatoes, stock or water, and crush the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon to break up, and increase heat to medium-high. Let simmer for around 35 minutes or until reduced by about an inch or two.
For the mornay sauce; melt butter and EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until you can see the mixture thickening.
Quickly whisk in milk and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer keep whisking until béchamel thickens once more, about 4 minutes.
Now add in parmesan or cheddar cheese and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper.
ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
Heat oven to 180°C or 400°F (fan forced).
Lightly oil a large baking dish. Spread 1 cup of the lasagne sauce into the dish then lay a single layer of lasagna sheets over the top of the mixture (you will need to break some sheets in half in order to fill all gaps).
Spoon 1 cup of mornay sauce over the lasagna sheets, spreading in an even layer with the back of a spoon. Repeat this process again and again until all sheets are used up and layers are created.
For the final layer, cover with remaining mornay sauce and the reserved cheese (I also like to add broken up mozzarella or bocconcini at this point).
Bake lasagne until bubbling gently around the edges, about 45 minutes.
Let the lasagne rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, otherwise the sauce will spill out - trust me on this one!!!
Sometimes I play around with the basic flavour profile; for instance if you wish to add chorizo, pancetta or bacon do it 2 minutes into your cook of the mirepoix - it will add a delicious umami and salty, savoury complexity to the dish. Similarly, add paprika, or rosemary, or even a tiny bit of cumin at the aromatics stage - they all work very well - just use whatever you have and what you feel like!
This can keep up to a week in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer. This recipe is also great for meal prepping or making large portions for friends. Please enjoy and let me know what you think!
This is part of the series Basics with Brit if you would like to see more of this, or another recipe please leave a comment below.