Lasagna (lasagne) Bolognese is a hearty Italian classic recipe made with layers of fresh pasta, Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce and Parmesan cheese. It just might be the perfect Italian dish for feeding a family (or a small crowd) and is perfect for freezing for future use.
I recently made a ‘low and slow’ cooked Traditional Bolognese Sauce that is the main ingredient to this lasagna. Now, you might think lasagna is a complex dish to make but in reality 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. That’s it! But, it’s the quality of the ingredients and the method of putting it together that makes my recipe so delectable.
Lasagna without Mozzarella
In Northern Italy (like Bologna, home of Bolognese) they do not use mozzarella or ricotta in their lasagna, just like my recipe here. But what is that on the top that looks like mozzarella, you ask? It is béchamel sauce topped with Parmesan cheese to give it that wonderful, gooey topping when baked.
In Southern Italy, they make their lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella. It’s so interesting that the same country will have two different takes on the same dish, just based on either the northern or southern part of the country.
Béchamel in Lasagna
When adding the béchamel sauce, you do not need to spread it thickly on each layer. Simply drizzle in lines across each layer. As it bakes, it will melt and spread evenly.
Fresh pasta vs Dried Pasta for Lasagna
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 a fork. I do like to make my own pasta, but these days many stores now carry fresh pasta that is very good indeed to don’t be afraid to go that route. So, if you happen see sheets of fresh pasta in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, I highly recommend using them!
If you are using fresh pasta, there is no need to pre-boil before assembling the lasagna as they take very little cooking time. With dry pasta, however, I do recommend cooking it just a few minutes shy of the recommended time on the box. That is, unless you are using the no boil noodles that are available now.
This is a well-stacked lasagna and feeds a lot! I am not stingy on the layers here because I don’t like a wimpy tower of lasagna on my plate. Look a the layers in the picture below! Seriously.
The best pan to use for Lasagna
You will need a deep casserole dish for this lasagna recipe, 9 x 11-inches (23 x 28 cm) 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) deep, as there are 5 layers of pasta.
Tips for Assembling Lasagna
My number one rule is to divide all the ingredients into 5 even parts when you start to assemble your masterpiece. There will be 5 layers and this way you know that you will not run out of ingredients. Another tip is – you don’t need thick layers of sauce between the past sheets.
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.
Best way to Freeze Lasagna
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 your dish 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 cooking instructions.
Lasagna Leftovers Freezing Tips
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/190°C 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.
A delicious idea instead of using the meat-based Bolognese sauce is Mushroom Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce. For vegetarian béchamel, just switch out the milk to dairy-free.
Italian Sausage Lasagna
Italian sausage is an easy way to make a meaty Italian Sausage Ragu di Salsiccia that you can also use in this Lasagna.