This lasagna is life changing. It’s saucy and meaty, and has a garlic parmesan infused béchamel sauce that’s incredible. I have never made this for anyone and not had them swoon. It needs a bit of prep work, but it is so worth the effort. Leftovers taste even better!
This recipe is more typical to lasagna we make in the Middle East than the American style lasagna that has ricotta cheese. I prefer this version a 100 times over. The béchamel is so creamy and smooth and keeps the lasagna from drying out. It’s not at all gritty like ricotta based lasagnas can be.
It does require a bit of leg work, especially in whisking that béchamel (rather, I should say arm work), but it’s very easy in it’s steps. What I like to do is double the recipe, prepare two pans of lasagna, bake one for dinner and freeze one for emergencies. It’s the happiest thing in the world to discover a frozen lasagna just waiting to be baked into golden bubbly deliciousness.
Prepare the lasagna as detailed in the recipe, right down to the mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top, but stop there. Don’t bake it, just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminium foil and place it in the freezer. It will stay good in the freezer for 3-4 months.
The day before you want to make this, thaw it overnight in the freezer. The day of baking, you’ll bake it just like detailed in the recipe, but you may need to add an extra 10-15 minutes.
Lasagna bolognese with béchamel-ingredients and steps:
The meat sauce: Starts off with an onion that’s been cooked, and you’ll add your ground beef and lots of seasoning to this. I add all spice, cinnamon, salt, pepper, garlic powder as well as fresh minced garlic. Very similar to how I start all my spiced beef dishes. To turn this into a sauce, we add the canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, some brown sugar and hot water. This simmers away for 30 minutes developing a deep rich flavor. While this is cooking, you can start on your béchamel:
The béchamel: Flour and butter is whisked together and heated until it turns golden brown. Whole milk and heavy cream (so indulgent but so worth it) are warmed then added to the flour/butter. The reason for heating them is so the sauce will thicken faster. Even then, you’ll need a good 10 minutes of whisking over low heat. To infuse this white sauce with even more flavor, fresh garlic and nutmeg are added, as well as some salt and pepper. Once the sauce has formed a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese goes in.
To assemble: You’ll need dry lasagna noodles. Always get the no boil type to make your life much easier, you’ll layer the dry ones in directly into your baking pan. The layers of our lasagna go like this:
Layer one: Smear of béchamel on the bottom of the pan, Lasagna noodles, 1/3 meat sauce, 1/3 béchamel
Layer two: Lasagna noodles, 1/3 meat sauce, 1/3 béchamel
Layer three: Lasagna noodles, remaining meat sauce, remaining béchamel. mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese
Don’t worry about getting the layers perfect. Spread everything out as best as you can but in the end it’s all going to get mixed together into saucy and delicious perfection!
Lasagna Bolognese with Bechamel
For the meat sauce:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 500 g ground beef 1 lb
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- black pepper to taste (approx 1/2 tsp)
- salt to taste (approx 1 tsp)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large can tomato sauce (15 oz or 400g)
- 1 small carton tomato paste
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup hot water
For the béchamel:
- 1/4 cup butter 1/2 stick
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
- 9-12 no bake lasagna noodles one box is more than enough
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- handful of shredded parmesan, optional
For the meat sauce:
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, heat the vegetable oil then sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the ground beef and cook until it browns, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon to prevent clumps.
- Add the all spice, cinnamon, black pepper, salt and minced garlic.
- Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and brown sugar. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the water, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
To make the béchamel:
- In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter with the flour. Whisk until the mixture becomes golden brown (About 3 minutes)
- Warm the milk and heavy cream by combining them in a large microwave safe bowl for a minute so until warm but not boiling.
- Pour the warm milk and cream over the butter/flour mixture, whisking constantly. Add the garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low (so mixture simmers) and continue to whisk constantly until mixture has thickened. This will take a good 8-10 minutes.
- Once béchamel sauce has formed, turn off the heat and mix in the parmesan cheese. Set pan aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Coat the bottom of a 9×13 inch pyrex or ceramic baking pan with a little béchamel sauce just so the lasagna noodles don't stick to the bottom.
- Place one layer of uncooked lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan-if you need to, break up some noodles into thinner strips or pieces in order to fully cover the bottom of the pan.
- Top dry noodles with 1/3 of the meat sauce, and top this with 1/3 of the béchamel . Layer again with dry noodles, 1/3 of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the béchamel, then the final layer of meat sauce and béchamel. Top with mozzarella cheese and shredded parmesan.
- Loosely cover lasagna with foil, then bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minute until lasagna is golden brown and bubbling. To brown further, you can turn on the broiler for the last minute or so.
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