I’m sure you’re shaking your head at the notion that any dish could be the “best ever” of its kind. But trust me. This is The Best Lasagna Ever. At least I personally think so, and judging by the “oooohs” and “aaahs” coming from my dinner guests’ (dad, J, mom) mouths as they ate, I’d say they agreed.
Italian food, specifically pasta, is probably one of my favorite foods of all time. I love how fresh ingredients come together in a few steps to create something wonderful. I firmly believe that technique and love are the two things that make pasta so delicious. Although the process is relatively simple, you have to pay attention to technique and put a lot of love into your pasta dish. That’s amore!
I can’t take any credit for this recipe, which I got from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. This lasagna is a combination of recipes that Deb, the blogger, put together in perfect, easy-to-understand form and it was a blast to make. It makes extra bolognese so you can have it again (and trust me, you’ll be happy to have it!) and just enough pasta to create five, beautifully light layers of the most delicious lasagna you’ll ever eat. There it is again,”the best,” but I can’t emphasize to you enough how scrumptious this is.
This lasagna is not a brick created of heavy ricotta, gooey mozzarella and sausage-laden sauce. It’s only four components: fresh pasta sheets, a rich bolognese made with beef and vegetables, creamy béchamel and a good amount of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. I’ve had lasagna like this in both Italy and Tokyo and it’s a far cry from the version that seems to be most popular here in the U.S.
Another lovely thing about this dish is that it’s downright cheap to make. The pasta consists of 1.5 cups of flour, two eggs and a sprinkle of water. The sauce is ground chuck, red wine, a couple of cans of good tomato paste and a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onions plus garlic and thyme. The béchamel is your standard version made with butter, flour, salt and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. The only thing that is a bit pricy is the Parmigiano-Reggiano, but don’t skimp and buy a cheaper parm because it’s the only cheese in this lasagna so it’s gotta be good.
What comes from these ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen is something so spectacular it’s mind boggling. You’d easily pay upwards of $15-20 per piece for this in any restaurant. So save yourself some dough and make an entire pan so you can have it all to yourself for a fraction of that cost. Well, maybe you should share. Or not.
Although you might be intimidated by making pasta from scratch, I can assure you this is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. You whiz everything in your Cuisinart until it forms a ball, then let it rest for an hour before rolling it out. It literally took no time at all, and Deb’s instructions on prepping everything to roll out, boil and layer the noodles are so thorough that there it leaves no room for error.
For my lasagna, I purposely left the edges of the top layer of lasagna noodles exposed so that they would get extra crisp. As if the corner pieces of a regular lasagna aren’t popular enough already- this just took it over the top!
I served this with a green salad, roasted broccolli and a crusty baguette for my mom’s birthday dinner, and it was a home run! I attempted to make Zen Chef’s Grand Marnier souffle for dessert- it wasn’t a complete failure but it didn’t toast up nice and golden like his and one of the four fell in the oven. Ah well.
Now get cookin’!