When I think of comfort food, one thing that instantly comes to mind is Lasagne. My Mother made an amazing Lasagne, and I always cherish my childhood memories surrounding it. My husband and I went to Italy to celebrate our 2nd anniversary, and I have warm memories tied to my first sampling of a lovely Lasagne Bolognese in Rome. I absolutely love Lasagne of all kinds, and there seem to be 11ty different variations on recipes out there. I recently purchased Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and adapted the recipe in the book to fit what I had on hand, as well as to include fresh pasta. I prefer fresh pasta, but if time or material is not on your side, 8 ounces of dried egg lasagne sheets can work just as well. I hope that you do try to make some fresh pasta at some point, though. It’s something just so simple and rewarding, and the difference in quality is shocking.
For the Bolognese Sauce:
2-4 slices smoked bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 heaped teaspoons dried oregano
1 lb. ground beef
2 links sweet italian sausage, casing removed
2 x 14 oz. cans of san marzano tomatoes, diced
1 can tomato paste
1 – 2 cups water
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a small bunch of basil
2 ounces parmaggiano reggiano cheese
For the lasagne sheets:
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups flour
For the 3rd layer:
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 oz. mozzarella cheese
- 4 ounces parmaggianno regianno cheese
- 1 large ripe tomato, sliced
For the Bolognese:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add 2 lugs of olive oil, your sliced bacon, and the oregano, cooking until the bacon is lightly golden.
Add the diced onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat for about 7 minutes, until vegetables are translucent.
Scoot the vegetables over to one side, and in the empty area, add the tomato paste, stirring around to sort of caramelize the paste before mixing in with the rest of the vegetables.
Add the ground beef, sausage, and diced tomatoes to the vegetables, and brown over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together.
Add about 1 cup water to the sauce, and stir in a good pinch of salt and pepper. If the sauce seems to thick, add more water. Pick the basil leaves and return those to the fridge for later. Finely chop the basil stalks and stir into the pan. Bring it to a boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, to finish the sauce, finely grate 2 ounces of parmagianno into the sauce.
Remove the bolognese from the heat, tearing and stirring some of the larger basil leaves into the sauce, keeping the smaller ones aside for later. Have a taste of the sauce and season to taste.
For the fresh pasta:
Crack the eggs into a food processor and add the flour. Pulse frequently and listen for the sound changing to a rumble – this means the dough is coming together nicely.
When the dough is the consistency of bread crumbs, turn the power off and test the consistency by pinching the dough. If it’s a bit sticky, add a little more flour and pulse again.
Tip the dough mixture onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball using your hands. Give it a little knead until smooth. Then divide your dough into 3 equal parts.
Start on the thickest setting of your pasta machine, and run the first bit of your dough through 4 or 5 times, moving the rollers closer together each time until the pasta is silky smooth and thinner than a CD.
Assembly of the lasagne:
If using dried pasta, blanche your pasta for about 5-6 minutes to soften the pasta.
Spoon a third of your Bolognese sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. Follow with a layer of lasagne sheets. Dollop a third of your ricotta and smooth it out to cover the lasagne sheets. Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper and a third of your parmaggiano regiano.
Add 2 more layers, and during the final layer, sprinkle over the remainder of your parmaggiano, break up your mozzarella and top with slices of tomato and the basil leaves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top.
Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
After that, remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 35 minutes until the lasagne is golden and bubbling.
Allow some cooling time, and then cut into slices.