Italian Lasagne Serving suggestion

This Lasagne al Forno recipe is for those who enjoy a classic Italian meal. In the UK we often see this on a pub menu. It is not always the made from fresh version that you will discover here.

I have included the instructions for making lasagne pasta sheets freshly at home which is not as difficult as you may think. I found it fun to make, and even better if you have a pasta machine to get the sheets of pasta to the thin size expected. My lasagne sheets were a little bit thicker than usual without having the rollers to push the pasta through, but they tasted deliziosa.

The shop-bought fresh lasagne sheets are a suitable alternative to homemade, but the dried version can be used in place of the homemade if you wish.

I made this with completely fresh ingredients and the difference in flavour is simply amazing. It makes sense to take a little longer in preparation for the taste of a full-flavoured Lasagne al Forno (Italian Beef Lasagna), made with homemade beef ragu sauce, bechamel sauce, fresh pasta and topped with melted mozzarella cheese! 

Lasagna Al Forno with salad garnish

What’s the Difference Between Lasagna and Lasagne? 

If you are a foodie, you will want to know what the difference is, so I’ll keep you waiting no longer: in Italian, lasagna is one sheet of pasta or noodle, and lasagne is more than one (plural). Because this recipe usually has multiple sheets or noodles, it is most referred to as lasagne. If making your own sheets or noodles, it is possible to make each sheet to the size of the baking dish so each layer requires just one sheet. 

Lasagne comfort food

What is Il Soffritto?

The start of the ragu sauce begins with these basic ingredients: carrot, celery, and onion, chopped very finely and sauteed gently and slowly in a little drizzle of olive oil for around ten minutes until softened. Many Italian stews and sauces begin with Il Soffritto. The depth of flavour is wonderful when used in lots of different dishes. 

Creating the Ragu

A crucial part of the recipe, making the Ragu, requires only 10 or 15 minutes to prepare. What takes the majority of the time is letting it simmer for at least 3 hours uncovered to allow the flavours to become rich, and the sauce to reduce. This improves the overall consistency and flavour. 

The Ragu sauce can be simmered slowly in the pan on a low heat setting whilst you go about doing other things; it will only require stirring occasionally. There is no way to speed up this process, things made well just require time and patience.

Once made, the sauce can be stored in the fridge, or frozen once cooled. This way you can make a large batch and have a Ragu ready for use much more quickly on another occasion.

Italian Lasagna al Forno

Homemade pasta sheets 

This part of the recipe is also more time consuming but is well rewarded with an authentic Italian flavour and the knowledge that you created it yourself. If time is a problem, try using quality fresh pasta sheets if you can, rather than dried. 

The ingredients and method for making your own fresh pasta are included here and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with your efforts. It is such fun and satisfying to create so long as you choose a time that suits you.

Béchamel sauce 

This is another example of a common shop-bought part that tastes 100% more flavoursome when made freshly at home. When making the bechamel sauce, as I’ve recommended before, try to use the best quality ingredients possible. The flavour will be your ultimate reward. I use a good parmesan cheese, and proper butter – not a substitute. These are simple ingredients but carefully selected. Some Americanised Italian recipes use ricotta cheese, but I would use parmesan. 

This recipe is designed to serve 8-10 people. If you want to serve 4-6 people just half the quantity of ingredients and the size of lasagne dish. 

For this recipe you will need a 9 x 13 Inch baking dish.

Lasagne al Forno Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Recipe by Janine Moore Course: DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

4

hours 
Calories

753

kcal

This Lasagne al Forno recipe for those who enjoy a classic Italian meal. In the UK we often see this on a pub menu. It is not always the made from fresh version that you will discover here, however.

Ingredients

  • Ingredients for the ragu sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Good Quality Olive Oil

  • 1 large Stalk of Celery

  • 1 large Carrot

  • 1 Large Onion

  • 500 g Minced Beef

  • 500 g Minced Pork

  • 450 g Tomato Passata; Sieved Tomatoes

  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Puree

  • 250 ml Red Wine

  • 1.5 litres Beef Stock

  • 2 Bay Leaves

  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt and Pepper

  • Ingredients for the bechamel sauce
  • 70 g Butter

  • 70 g Plain Flour

  • 1 litre Full Fat Milk

  • 70 g Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg

  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

  • Lasagne ingredients
  • (If using shop bought lasagne sheets/noodles, you will need 500g of fresh pasta sheets)

  • For making fresh pasta use these Ingredients:

  • 400 g 00’ Flour which can be found in larger supermarkets such as Sainsburys

  • 4 Large Free-Range Eggs

  • 1 Free-Range Egg Yolk

Directions

  • Method for beef ragu sauce
  • Finely chop the carrot, celery, and onion. Drizzle the olive oil into the pan on a medium heat and add the veg while stirring gently. Cook on a steady heat until softened.
  • Now add the minced meat and mix thoroughly. Cook on a medium setting until the meat is evenly browned while stirring.
  • Next, add the tomato puree and passata. Combine with the other ingredients and add the red wine.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
  • It’s time to add the beef stock and leave to simmer gently for 3 hours. Leave the sauce to reduce on a gentle setting and don’t cover it. This increases the intensity of the overall flavour and makes a better consistency.
  • Method for bechamel sauce
  • Add the butter to the pan and cook steady until bubbling.
  • Mix in the flour and it should form a paste, now cook for about a minute to cook the flour.
  • Start adding the milk and use a whisk keep it moving while gradually adding more milk. This will help to avoid lumps. Continue mixing the milk whilst whisking until it is all used up and you have removed all lumps. You can now add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Put this to one side.Bechamel sauce
  • Method for making fresh pasta
  • (When using dried lasagne sheets, please refer to the instructions on the packet because some will need pre-cooking before use.)
  • An easy basic recipe for fresh pasta, such as lasagne sheets, farfalle, ravioli, pappardelle, tagliatelle:
  • Start by putting the flour on a clean work surface.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour.
  • Use a fork to whisk the eggs into the flour, adding more of the flour into the centre constantly until all is incorporated.
  • It should look like a dough now, so begin using your hands to bring it together even more.
  • Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smoother and easier to use.
  • The dough is easier to use after setting it aside for thirty minutes, so wrap it in cling film until you use it again.
  • Next it is time to roll it out, so chop it into two to make it easier to use each section in turn.
  • If you have a pasta machine, flatten the dough with your palm so you can fit it into the machine on the first setting. Keep pushing the dough through and folding the edges into the middle each time, at least 4 times on this setting. Then reduce the setting each time until you have a nice thin sheet, finishing with the last setting. Now you can cut the slices to the size of your lasagne dish.
  • If, like me, you do not have a pasta machine, (it’s on my wish list) just keep rolling out and folding in until you have the dough as thin as you can. Then cut the sheets to size. Freshly made lasagne sheets
  • Assemble the Lasagne and bake
  • Start with preheating the oven to 180c (350F) Gas Mark 4.
  • Spoon a small layer of ragu on the bottom of the dish followed by a layer of lasagna pasta sheet once you have cut the sheet to size.
  • Now add more ragu to completely cover the pasta, and then 2 spoons of the bechamel sauce.
  • Next another layer of Lasagna and keep repeating until you have 4 layers or more if possible.
  • Make sure you have saved back enough of the white sauce for the topping.
  • Cover the final layer with the remaining white sauce and rip the mozzarella cheese and randomly place all over the lasagne. Oven ready Lasagne al forno
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Nutrition Facts

8 servings per container


  • Amount Per ServingCalories753
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 39g 60%
    • Saturated Fat 18g 90%
  • Cholesterol 120mg 40%
  • Sodium 740mg 31%
  • Potassium 1159mg 34%
  • Total Carbohydrate 56g 19%
    • Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
    • Sugars 12g
  • Protein 39g 78%

  • Vitamin C 10%
  • Calcium 417%
  • Iron 4%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Conclusion and tips

The ragu sauce can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a day or 2 and can be frozen for up to a month, as can the bechamel sauce. This can make it easy to create the lasagne on a busy day using the sauces that you prepared earlier in the week. 

To make the bechamel sauce richer, you can use fontina or gruyere cheese. 

This comfort food is especially enjoyable to make at the weekend when your family might like to help prepare the dish. The pasta can be quite an inspiring dish for the younger members of the family to join in with. 

If you are entertaining friends, it can be a great meal to impress them with your Italian cooking and it will certainly satisfy hungry tummies. Served with a little side salad and pared with a good wine it is a winner all round. 

Buon appetito!

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