Seriously From-Scratch Five-Layer Lasagna

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    12 to 15

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To call your lasagna “seriously from-scratch,” you must by definition make your own ricotta and mozzarella—neither of which is hard, but I recommend making them a day or two ahead of making the lasagna. You can make and cook the pasta ahead as well. The Bolognese can likewise be made several days ahead of assembling the lasagna. So, if you want to go at it, I recommend having a good plan and a prep list, and giving yourself plenty of time—this is a great weekend project for those who love to cook. This is an enormously satisfying experience if you take the time to appreciate the steps. Have fun making the cheese; take time to appreciate the texture of fresh pasta as you roll it out.

But if you want to forgo the cheese making and still call this from-scratch, this is perfectly reasonable—here’s why. There’s no question that making cheese is itself a worthwhile endeavor; this kind of knowledge helps us better understand our food and where it comes from. That said, I still consider this lasagna from-scratch if you buy your cheeses, because you can usually buy better fresh cheeses than the ones you can make at home on an occasional basis. I make things like pasta and mayonnaise from scratch, because they are of a quality you can’t buy anywhere. You can buy a roast chicken, but it’s nowhere near as good as one you roast at home. That’s the ultimate factor when deciding how deep into the cooking I want to go.

Do make your own tomato sauce (because it’s so easy) and add it to ground meat and onions and herbs for the Bolognese. And it really isn’t that hard to make your own pasta. But use store-bought pasta if you prefer—you know your own comfort level and time constraints. I want you to enjoy this project.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds/1 kilogram lasagna noodles, dried, fresh, or homemade
  • 1 pound/450 grams ricotta, store-bought or homemade
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup/240 milliliters plain tomato sauce (a good store-bought version is fine)
  • 6 cups/1.5 liters Bolognese Sauce
  • 1 pound/450 grams fresh mozzarella, store-bought or homemade, cut into ¼-inch/6-millimeter slices
  • 1 pound/450 grams scamorza or good-quality provolone, cut into ¼-inch/6-millimeter slices
  • 2 cups/120 grams grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method

Preheat your oven to 400°F/205°C.

Cook the pasta until it’s al dente, according to the type you’re using (fresh pasta needs only a few minutes). Drain and chill in an ice bath or in plenty of cold running water.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and stir or whisk till uniformly combined.

Spread a layer of tomato sauce evenly across the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch/22-by-33-centimeter or larger baking dish. Put a layer of pasta on top, cutting the sheets as needed to fit the pan. Spread half of the Bolognese evenly on top of the pasta. Cover the Bolognese with another layer of pasta. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over it. Cover the ricotta with another layer of pasta. Spread the remaining Bolognese sauce on top of the pasta. Cover this with another layer of pasta. Fan the slices of mozzarella and scamorza across the pasta, interspersing them. Sprinkle a third of the Parmigiano on top. Cover the cheese with a final layer of pasta, then sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano over the top.

If your baking dish is filled to the brim, put it on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any sauce that might bubble over. Bake for 1 hour, or until piping hot.

Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving. The longer you wait, the better. Room-temperature lasagna can be cut, and individual slices can be reheated in a hot even.

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