I lived in Rome, briefly, several years ago. In my opinion, it has some of the best food in the world. I love a North American Lasagna, but wanted to create something “unique”.
So, for this first Easter in Australia I made a Traditional Roman Lasagna, with a few of my own personal twists.
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tblsp butter
- 16 ounces milk
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 lbs Italian sausage
- 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (I like my food really garlic-y)
- 1 medium red onion or 2 shallots, diced
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp red chilli flakes
- 2-6 ounce cans tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine(my favourite part)
- 1- 24 ounce can of whole/diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 pound of lasagne noodles
- 1 cup fresh parmesan cheese
- 1 pound mozzarella, thinly sliced
Bechamel: Place butter and flour in a saucepan over medium heat and combine until thick paste. Slowly stir in the milk and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Add the nutmeg, stir and remove from the heat. Salt & pepper to taste, set aside.
Beat the three eggs, whisk in ricotto and cream cheese, and continue mixing until it is fairly smooth. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat, sautee onion, garlic, chillis and herbs until fragrant and soft. Remove the sausage from the casing, crumble it and ground beef in with onion. Cook until meat browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Drain meat mixture in a colander and set aside.
In the same skillet, add the tomato paste and cook it over med heat until it starts to caramelise, about 5 minutes (key step for the delicious flavour!). Add red wine to deglaze the pan.
Add tomatoes to skillet. (I would recommend using whole, fresh tomatoes to avoid fillers or additives sometimes found in canned tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes, dice and then squish tomatoes into the pan with your hands.) Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste, simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in meat mixture to tomato sauce and simmer for further 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large baking dish (13x9x3) spoon just enough of meat sauce to coat the bottom. Place one layer of lasagne noodles. (For a firmer, set lasagna, do not pre-cook noodles. For a wetter, saucier lasagna, boil pasta as directed.)
Spoon the ricotta/egg mixture onto the noodles, followed by meat sauce, Bechamel, and slices of mozzarella (freezing mozzarella for a half hour will make it easy to slice.)
Top this with another layer of noodles, being sure to lay the noodles perpendicular to the first layer. Cover the noodles with the filling as before. Continue until all the noodles have been used, remembering to alternate direction of the noodles.
Reserve enough of the Bechamel to cover the last layer of noodles and then put the grated parmesan over the top.
**If you have left over sauces or pasta, I would recommend making my Lasagna Bombs, for which I’ll post the recipe/directions later 🙂
Bake at 325 degrees, covered for 60 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Allow 20 minutes to rest prior to serving.
Wine Suggestion: I would recommend pairing this with an Australian Shiraz. The rich, full bodied flavour lends well to the beef, while the hints of sweetness play perfectly with the tomato sauce.