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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
8 servings per container
- Amount Per ServingCalories753
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 18g 90%
- Cholesterol 120mg 40%
- Sodium 740mg 31%
- Potassium 1159mg 34%
- Total Carbohydrate
- 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.