Lasagna Italiana

It's still hot and humid here in California but everyone's pictures of Autumn leaves and weather makes me miss the season and comforts of it. I've also been missing Italy something fierce. The only cure: legit lasagna. I make this about once a year and it serves an army. It's actually from Shannon's mission- the recipe is from the chef of her mission home and was both of our first meals in Italy.

Ragu (red sauce):
1 finely chopped small onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 carrot - grated
1 celery stalk - chopped finely
1-2 TBSP Olive Oil

Saute the above ingredients together and then add 1 pound of hamburger and cook on a low heat.

Add basil, oregano, and parsley and 1 qt of tomato juice (2 large cans of diced tomatoes, add tomato paste or sauce to thicken it if necessary).

Simmer the sauce on a very low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, with the lid on the pot. I like to use an immersion blender to blend it up a bit so there are no big chunks.

Besciamella: (I like Mario Batali's recipe best)
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (don't forget this! It ties the whole lasagna together)

In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour a little at a time and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat milk in separate pan until just about to boil. Add milk to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

In the lasagna pan:
Cover the bottom with ragu. Layer: Lasagna noodles (the thin kind!! no ruffles on the edges!), red sauce, besciamella, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. (Silvio's lasagna has about 7 layers of noodles). If you're using noodles that don't need to be cooked beforehand let the lasagna sit for about 30 minutes before placing in the oven.

Cook at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Don't let the top get too dark.

I also like to grill ciabatta bread or a baguette and then rub garlic over it. Then drizzle olive oil and salt. 

Buon appetito!


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