Lasagna (lasagne) Bolognese is a hearty Italian classic recipe with layers of fresh pasta, Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce and Parmesan cheese. Perfect for feeding a crowd or freezing for future use.
Last week I made a low and slow cooked traditional Bolognese sauce that is the main ingredient to this lasagna. There are just 4 ingredients to this lasagna, the meat sauce, a béchamel sauce (which is a simple white sauce), Parmesan cheese and fresh pasta sheets.
Fresh pasta vs Dried Pasta
I chose to use fresh pasta because it has a better texture than dried and you can cut through the layers so much easier with fork. I like to make my own pasta, but many stores now carry fresh pasta that is very good. If you see sheets of fresh pasta in the refrigerated section of the grocery store I highly recommend using it.
If you are using fresh pasta, there is no need to pre-boil before assembling the lasagna as they take very little cooking time. I do recommend cooking the dried pasta (just a few minutes shy of the recommended time on the box). Unless you are using the no-boil lasagna noodles that are available now.
If you like to make your own pasta (like I do), I have a Homemade Tagliatelle pasta recipe (< click text for link) that you can cut into lasagna sheets.
This is a well-stacked lasagna and feeds a lot. I am not stingy on the layers here because I don’t like a whimpy tower of lasagna on my plate. Look a the layers in the picture below!
The best pan to use
You will need a deep casserole dish for this lasagna recipe, 2-3 inches deep as there are 5 layers of pasta.
Assembling the Lasagna
My number 1 rule is to divide all the ingredients into 5 even parts when you start to assemble. There will be 5 layers and this way you know that you will not run out of ingredients.
Lasagna Bolognese make ahead instructions
Prepare the recipe up to step 5 (all the layers are complete). Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 1 day. The day you’re ready to bake, remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature while the oven preheats. Never put a cold ceramic dish in a hot oven. Bake as directed.
You will notice that there is no mozzarella in this lasagna (see above picture). But what is that on the top that looks like mozzarella, you ask? It is the béchamel sauce topped with Parmesan cheese to give a gooey topping.
When adding the béchamel sauce, you do not need to spread it thickly on each layer. Simply drizzle in lines across the layer. It will melt and spread as it bakes.
This is not a travesty, this is because in Bologna Italy, where the sauce and the dish originates, they do not use mozzarella in their lasagna. Nor do they use ricotta, a white béchamel sauce is used instead.
This lasagna Bolognese is the perfect make ahead dish that freezes really well. If you want to make it and freeze uncooked in the dish (make sure it is freezer friendly), just cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap and foil. When you are ready to bake, defrost in the fridge overnight and cook according to the recipe.
Leftovers freezing tip
If you want to freeze the lasagna after baking, allow it to come to room temperature, then cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap and foil, then freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge then reheat in a 375°F oven, covered in foil for 30 minutes or until heated through.
I also like to freeze it in individual servings, by cutting in squares. This way they are quicker to defrost.