Italian Lasagna Recipe

Italian Lasagna Recipe

Italian Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs ricotta cheese
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground chuck
salt and pepper
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
salt
white pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons butter for the lasagna
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
1 lb lasagna sheet cooked al dente
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
1 carrot chopped
1 stalk celery chopped
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion chopped
2 (32 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper


Preparation Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bechamel sauce: In a medium pot, melt 5 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When butter is completely melted, add the flour and whisk for about 2 minutes until smooth. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Continue to simmer and whisk for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the sauce is thick, smooth and creamy. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Put it away from heat and add the nutmeg and tomato sauce. Stir well and check for seasoning. Set aside and allow it to cool completely. In a saute pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil. When almost smoking, add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat, breaking any large lumps. Remove it from heat and drain any excess fat. Set aside and allow it to cool completely. In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly mix the ricotta and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Into the bottom of a baking dish, spread 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Arrange the pasta sheets side by side, covering the bottom of the baking dish. Evenly spread a layer of all the ricotta mixture and then a layer of all the spinach. Arrange another layer of pasta sheets and spread all the ground beef on top. Sprinkle 1/2 the mozzarella cheese on top of the beef. Spread another 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Arrange the final layer of pasta sheets and top with remaining bechamel, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into 1/4-inch cubes and top lasagna. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the lasagna dish on top, cover it and place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the top is bubbling, for about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to bake for about 15 minutes.
Simple Tomato Sauce: In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium to high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until it is thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at a time to round out the flavors. Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until it is smooth. Continue with the remaining tomato sauce. If you`re not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour one to two cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Photo credit: NathanF

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