This is a collaborative post with photographer Love Les.
My history with Italian pasta is well-documented, but there is a special place in my heart for this lasagna. Until American lasagna with its 14 kinds of cheese, Italian lasagna from Tuscany is all about the sauces. I'll be the first to say, if you have a pasta maker, by all means, make homemade noodles. There really is nothing like homemade pasta. However, I don't have a pasta maker, or the space to make it from scratch, so I stuck to the storebought noodles. I used the regular Barilla noodles, but the "oven ready" noodles are also good. I still boil them for a minute or two just to be safe (they also make gluten free!). When it comes to pasta, Barilla is as good as it gets. Don't bother with another brand unless you have to. If you use good sauce and Parmesan, it will still taste delicious.
This recipe uses the homemade bolognese meat sauce that I've made before. The sauce is a time-consuming project, but it freezes well so when it comes time to make lasagna, you just need to take it out of the freezer. If you're using store-bought noodles, this recipe is fairly quick and you can prep it ahead of time and then bake it just before serving.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Adapted From: Marcella Hazen
3 cups Bolognese Meat Sauce
2.5 cups Milk
5 T Butter
4 T Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Package Barilla Noodles
1. Heat meat sauce and start boiling water in a large pot.
2. Make bechamel sauce. Heat milk until almost boiling. In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour until thick. Let the flour and butter bubble for two minutes, but do not let the butter turn a darker color. Turn off heat and slowly pour in hot milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly. You can increase to 1/4 cup at a time after the first cup. When all the milk has been incorporated, add salt and turn heat to low. Stir until the sauce is as dense as thick cream.
3. Boil noodles according to package directions. When ready, drain and leave noodles in the pot. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
4. In a 9x11 pan, spread a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom. Cover the pan with noodles, slightly overlapping. It's is important that the noodles don't fold up the sides, or they will get crispy and inedible. Every surface of the noodles should be covered in sauce. On each layer, begin by spreading meat sauce over the noodles in a thin layer. Then add bechamel sauce, mixing the two together with a spoon. Finally, add a layer of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Repeat with remaining noodles and sauces, ideally 5-6 layers. On the top layer, add slightly more Parmesan.
6. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and Serve warm (ideally with a crisp salad and a good red wine!).