Lasagna Bolognese is a delicious marriage of rich, meaty ragù, creamy besciamella (the Italian version of French béchamel sauce) and supple, tender pasta. Our take on the Italian classic was inspired by a version we tasted at Osteria Broccaindosso in Bologna. We liked Barilla oven-ready lasagna noodles, preferring them even over fresh sheet pasta. Both the ragù and the besciamella should be warm for lasagna assembly; if made ahead, the ragù reheats well in a large saucepan over medium heat. A serrated knife is best for cutting the lasagna for serving.
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 quart half-and-half
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1½ cups), plus more to serve
- 6 large fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 12 no-boil 6½-by-3½-inch lasagna noodles
- (see headnote)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 cups ragù Bolognese
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, then cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. While whisking, gradually add the half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaves and pepper flakes, then reduce to low. Cook, whisking often, until the sauce thickens, reduces slightly and no longer tastes of raw starch, 10 to 15 minutes.
Off heat, whisk in the Parmesan and basil. Cool for 5 minutes, then set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl, pour the sauce into the strainer and press on the solids with a silicone spatula; discard the solids. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Place the noodles in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then add hot water (about 140°F) to cover, along with the oil and 1½ teaspoons salt; swish the noodles around to dissolve the salt. Let stand for 10 minutes, moving the noodles around halfway through to ensure they do not stick together.
Remove the noodles from the water and arrange in a single layer on a kitchen towel; pat dry with paper towels. Wipe out the baking dish. Distribute 2 cups ragù evenly in the baking dish, then place three noodles in a single layer on top. Spread ¼ cup besciamella onto each noodle, all the way to the edges. Pour 1 cup ragù on top and spread evenly. Repeat the layering three more times, using the remaining noodles, besciamella and ragù, then cover the baking dish tightly with foil.
Bake until the edges of the lasagna are bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack, uncover and cool for about 30 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
Cook With Christopher
Two more recipes from Milk Street Noodles for AARP members to try:
Nutty, wholesome Japanese buckwheat noodles and bok choy are sauced with a puree of toasted walnuts and miso that delivers a double hit of umami.
This recipe blends pistachios and ricotta cheese, along with fresh basil and chives, to create a simple pesto to toss with al dente pasta.
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