When Americans think of lasagna, we typically think of the noodles, meat, and melted mozzarella variety. But in many parts of Italy, lasagna is not made with mozzarella. Instead, it uses creamy and fluffy bechamel with Parmesan as the only cheese. This is my favorite type of lasagna, it is much more delicate (and I have a serious bechamel obsession). My favorite recipe (courtesy of Chef Massimiliano Bartoli, Miss Williamsburg Restaurant) also uses ground veal instead of beef, and white wine instead of red - which provides the meat ragu with a really distinctive and tangy flavor. Enjoy the best lasagna recipe ever!
Begin with the Ragu, as it takes several hours to make:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons finely chopped onions
6 tablespoons finely chopped carrots
6 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 pound ground veal
1 cup white wine
1 pound canned or fresh tomatoes (pureed and passed through a strainer)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the veal and brown, breaking up any big chunks of meat. Add the wine, increase the heat and simmer until the pan is once again dry, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover. Bring the sauce to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is deeply flavored and no longer watery, about 4 hours. Season the ragu with salt and pepper and keep warm or refrigerate until ready to use.
3 ounces butter (6tbsp)
3 ounces all-purpose flour (6tbsp)
1 quart milk
Freshly ground nutmeg
Place the milk in the saucepan, and heat over medium-high until bubbles form at the edges of the pan.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture is creamy and no longer smells floury.
Gradually add the milk to the roux a ladle at a time, working with a wooden spoon after each addition until the mixture is smooth. After all of the milk is incorporated, continue to cook over medium-high, whisking constantly. As the sauce returns to a boil, simmer until it thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 min. Season the bechamel with the nutmeg and salt; cover and keep warm until ready to use.
* Fresh Lasagna, recipe follows (**I use store bought no-boil sheets instead**)
* Kosher salt
* Bechamel Sauce
* 3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the pasta, boiling salted water until just tender, drain and refresh in ice water. (**if using no-boil sheets, skip this step**)
Put a thin layer of bechamel in the bottom of a shallow baking dish or a jelly-roll pan. Cover the bechamel with a thin layer of ragu and a little cheese. Top the sauces and cheese with a layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat 6 times ending with a layer of bechamel, ragu and cheese. Bake the lasagna until it is warm at the center and the cheese topping golden brown, about 45 minutes (cover with some aluminum foil if the lasagna browns before it is fully heated).
1 pound high gluten flour (recommended: 00 flour)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Mix the eggs, salt, and olive oil with 2 tablespoons of water in a mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the flour and mix until the dough comes together then knead the dough using the dough hook until it is smooth and elastic. (Alternatively combine the flour with the salt and mound in a large bowl or on a clean work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour mound. Combine the wet ingredients in the well then gradually incorporate the flour. When the dough comes together, knead it until it is smooth and elastic.)
Divide the dough in thirds. Roll each sheet of dough through the machine starting at the widest setting then graduating to thinner settings and stopping when the sheets of dough are a medium thickness. Place the sheets of pasta on a lightly floured surface and set aside until ready to use.