Originating from Ancient Rome, lasagne is cherished by food-lovers worldwide. Many are familiar with the traditional lasagne alla bolognese, which combines a rich beef ragu with tomato sauce and a generous helping of cheese. However, nearly every region of Italy offers a different take on this classic dish. Our founder, Alessandro, fondly recalls enjoying lamb lasagne whilst growing up in Genova. There are also many delicious options for keen vegetarians. For instance, a Sicilian lasagne substitutes beef for roasted aubergine and ricotta salata.
When it comes to making the perfect lasagne, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Simply take the time to source the right ingredients and make your lasagne from scratch. We have no doubt your efforts will be suitably rewarded. Our recipe will show you how to make an authentic lasagna alla bolognese from scratch.
What makes an ‘authentic’ lasagne?
One of the biggest differences between the lasagne we all know and a true Italian lasagne is the consistency. In his seminal book Made in Italy: Food and Stories, renowned chef Giorgio Locatelli describes Italian lasagne as a "sturdy, quite dry pasta dish." This may not sound like the most appetising of meals. However, consider the alternative - a subpar lasagne that comes out of the oven (or microwave) a bland and gloopy mess. This is the type of lasagne that Locatelli decries as ‘not lasagne but a version of shepherd’s pie, only made with pasta instead of potato.’
If you’re looking for true authenticity, we strongly recommend you use fresh pasta. Why not use this as an opportunity to try making your own lasagne sheets at home? It’s much easier than you’d expect, see for yourself by reading our guide to making lasagne sheets.
One question we’re often asked is whether Italian chefs use mince in their lasagne. The answer is yes - some do. Those that do, however, will use a mixture of beef and pork mince. Personally, we avoid using mince in our lasagne. We find great satisfaction in a tender chunk of beef shin, elevating the lasagne's overall flavours and textures.
Our traditional Italian lasagne recipeServes 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 hours
Calories: 693.45 per serving
For the ragù
- 300g Beef shin
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 large celery sticks, finely chopped
- 500ml passata
- 1 tbsp of tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- 500ml beef stock
- 100ml red Barolo wine
- Olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the lasagne
- 400g fresh lasagne sheets
- ⅓ cup (50g) of Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle over each layer (don’t forget the top)
For the bèchamel sauce
- 600 ml of milk
- 60g plain flour
- 60g butter
- Generous grating of nutmeg
- Salt and black pepper to season
To make your ragù
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Once browned, set the beef aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic to the same pot and sauté until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 more minutes. Add the tomato puree along with the passata and cook for another few minutes.
- Add back the browned beef, along with beef stock and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and continue to simmer for 3 hours minimum, or until the beef is very tender.
- If the sauce is too liquidy at the end of the 3 hour cooking period, remove the beef and reduce the liquid over medium heat, until thickened.
- Pull the meat into chunks and stir through the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
To make your béchamel
- While your ragù is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan and add flour. Whisk until combined and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring continuously until thickened. Season with nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste, and set aside.
Watch Roberta making a traditional béchamel sauce in our video guide:
To finish off your lasagne
- To assemble the lasagne, ladle a thin layer of ragù on the bottom of the medium to large baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagne sheets – don’t worry about overlapping sheets here. Follow this with another layer of ragù – be more generous this time; using the back of the spoon push it right to the edge. Follow with a layer of béchamel. Sprinkle over a generous handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Repeat these steps (pasta, ragù, béchamel, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese) to use up both sauces and pasta. There should be at least 5 layers of pasta and the top should be sprinkled with Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Cook the lasagne for 40 minutes. Our Head Chef Roberta recommends covering your dish with aluminium foil for the first 10-15 mins, to ensure that the lasagne doesn't dry out in the oven.
Remove from the oven and leave to stand for at least 5 minutes. To serve, slice into equal-sized portions and finish with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Buon appetito.
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.