I remember being obsessed as a kid with learning how to make lasagna. It’s my single favourite food but my mom never made it, we always used to get it from a restaurant or have it delivered. So I knew that if I wanted to be able to eat it anytime I want, I would have to learn how to make it. My mom, to this day, still has never made lasagna, but I suppose, now that I don’t live there anymore, no one really asks for lasagna anymore. Instead, when she comes to visit me, or I go and visit them, I make it for the family.
Today, 2 decades after I started learning how to make lasagna, I have my own recipe that I could probably recite it in my sleep. However, it wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, I felt really overwhelmed with how much work goes into making one tray of layered pasta. So if you feel that way, it’s okay, but don’t give up. My advise is to make the red sauce the day before then make the white sauce and build your lasagna the next day. That way, you don’t feel like you’ve spent half your day in the kitchen.
I broke down my tutorial into 2 parts. You can watch Part 1 where I make the bolognese (red sauce) then watch Part 2 for the mornay sauce (white sauce) and assembly. The full recipe can also be found below, where you’ll see you’ll be needing my bolognese recipe. I recommend freezing what you don’t use, that way you can make lasagna quicker next time or just have a back-up pasta sauce in your freezer ready to go when you don’t feel like cooking. Note there were a couple of typos in the video where it said 1/2 of my bolognese recipe, but you’ll need a whole recipe for a 9x13inch tray. And it said 100g flour and 100g of butter when it’s meant to be 200g of each.
Tips on cutting your lasagna
Everybody’s curious how when photographed, lasagne looks immaculate. Each layer can be distinguished, and each portion so clean cut. I’m sure it frustrated those of you who are still not in on the secret, because I was once like you! So I’ll let you in on it, okay? But promise me you’ll try it and leave a comment below!
- The truth about lasagna photos. The lasagna was probably cut cold, so the sauce and cheese is set which makes it easier for it to hole it’s shape and layers. I know because I’ve done shoots with cold lasagna.
- Serving a perfect slice of lasagna. There is a way to serve a perfect slice of lasagna that’s not bone dry. If you make my recipe, it will tell you to REST the lasagna for at least 15 minutes. If you really want a good slice, do it for 30 minutes, just make sure you keep it covered in foil. Let’s be honest, no one wants to take a bite of piping hot lasagne anyway, so don’t rush serving it and wait it out. Your patience will be rewarded.
- Cutting the lasagna. So you’ve let the lasagna rest, well done. Now prepare the plates, grab a sharp serrated knife or a sharp thin bladed chef’s knife and an offset turner–you know those things that you use to flip pancakes, meat fish when you’re frying. When you have those ready, cut up the lasagna into portions, make sure you’ve cut all the way through then lift each one onto a plate neatly. Don’t hesitate.
The lasagna you’ll see in the photo below was baked fresh and rested for 30 minutes. It was so photogenic but was also so delicious!
- Mornay sauce:
- This recipe makes a 9x13in baking tray. Preheat oven to 180C. On your stove, bring red sauce to the boil then turn flame off and set aside. Lightly grease baking dish then set aside. Make mornay sauce:
- Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add herbs to infuse the butter. When butter is starts bubbling, add flour and whisk for 3 minutes.
- Gradually pour hot milk while continuously whisking, to avoid lumps in your sauce.
- Bring to the boil then slow down to a simmer and stir pecorino romano until it melts. add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the surface of the sauce with plastic wrap to avoid getting skin on top of your white sauce. Set aside. Assembly
- Take your baking tray, white sauce, red sauce, pasta, salt and pepper, and grated mozzarella and place them within arms reach. To make layering easier, divide both sauces into 4 equal parts.
- Take your baking tray and cover the bottom with 1 part of the red sauce. Cover with a layer of pasta.
- Pour 1 part of the red sauce over the pasta then pour 1 part of the white sauce over the red sauce and season with salt and pepper. Cover with another layer of pasta. Repeat this step 2 more times.
- Finally, pour the last part of the white sauce (you should only have white sauce and grated mozzarella left at this stage) and cover with all the grated mozzarella. Season with salt & pepper.
- Bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until a knife goes through without any resistance. An Italian chef once told me that lasagna is the only pasta that should be overcooked, it should never be al dente.
- You'll need my recipe for beef bolognese. Find the recipe here.
- Lasagna will bubble up, and to avoid unnecessary mess and extra cleaning, I place my baking dish on a tray lined with baking paper to catch any drips.
This recipe makes up to 10 servings.
- Heat a large pot with a little bit of oil, then brown bacon. Take bacon out and set aside.
- In the same pot, heat vegetable oil and cook mushrooms. Push mushrooms to the side then saute onion and garlic. Add carrot, cook until soft. Keep the pan hot. Add mince beef, season with salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce.
- When minced is browned, add the bacon, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and stock. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
- Finish with cheese and peas. Bring to a boil then add torn basil leaves, if using. Season with salt and pepper and sugar, according to your taste. If making ahead, no need to add the basil. Add when you reheat the sauce before serving.
- Can use speck instead of bacon, or can leave out the bacon, but it adds to the flavour of your sauce.
- If you don't have beef stock, feel free to use water and bouillon cubes/stock powder.
- I like that the peas give it a bit of color variety and additional vegetables. You can use frozen peas from the freezer just make sure you simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- You can freeze this for up to 3 months.
- Feel free to use substitutions for the protein like, chicken, turkey, veal or pork or a mix of pork and veal. When you do substitute, you will also need to change the stock to chicken or vegetable stock.
- For vegetarian option, use vegetable stock, up the veggies in the recipe and for the protein use chickpeas, lentils or beans. You have to add the legumes towards the end so you don't end up with a soggy mess.