everyone has had lasagna at some point, it's one of the most frequently mentioned comfort foods. and for good reason, it has all the essentials, pasta, lots of cheese, and a creamy tomatoey sauce that longs to drip down your chin. it has always been very high on my personal list of favorites, and never takes as long to make as i remember from my youth.
this version is my mother's. it's simple, practical, and delicious. there is one ingredient missing from this version that i believe people will be confused by, but i assure you...it's wonderful.
1 box lasagna noodles
3-4 cups tomato sauce (or one jar if using store-bought)
2 packages of shredded low-moisture mozzarella
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1# ground beef
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
boil the noodles per the package instruction, but add a small amount of oil to the water, and liberally salt it. i don't normally add oil to pasta water, as it prevents the sauce from sticking to the noodles - but we don't want the noodles to stick to each other in the water, so it's helpful in this case. once these are boiled, strain and set aside.
meanwhile, brown the beef in a large pan over medium high heat, and then drain off any extra fat. add the tomato sauce to this, and turn the heat on low to let the flavors combine for a few minutes.
to make the beschemel: over medium heat melt 3 tablespoons of butter, and then add in 3 tablespoons of flour, whisking together until a thick paste forms. continue heating this for two minutes more (to remove the raw flour flavor) and then whisk in the milk. heat this for several minutes, whisking occasionally, until it thickens. add in a large handful of mozzarella, salt, and pepper, and whisk until the cheese is melted, then turn off the heat.
to assemble, layer the bottom of the pan with a thin coating of the tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles, a layer of tomato sauce, a layer of the beschemel, and then a layer of the mozzarella. repeat this layering process, but criss cross the noodle layers each time so that they are more "sturdy". on top of the mozzarella on the last layer, sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.
cook in the oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is bubbly and golden. let sit for a few minutes before cutting. enjoy!
i frequently make this with a layer of sauteed fresh spinach leaves in the center, which is delicious. i highly recommend you trying that if you give the recipe a go.
though this recipe doesn't include the standard ricotta cheese, i believe you'll find the beschemel sauce to be richer, creamier, and downright yummy.
this dish is great heated up the next day, in fact it's often better, so it makes for lovely lunch leftovers.