Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce

You know what I love? Lasagna. More specifically, my mom’s lasagna. It’s one of the things she makes better than anyone else I know and it alllll comes down to one magical ingredient: Béchamel sauce. Ever had it? It’s amazing. It’s a white sauce made with a roux of butter and flour cooked in milk. According to Wikipedia, it’s “one of the mother sauces of French cuisine”. According to me, it’s one mother of a sauce. For any cuisine. It’s super creamy and is a genius substitution for ricotta cheese in lasagna recipes because sometimes ricotta (as delicious as it is) makes for a somewhat dry and mealy lasagna. Béchamel lasagna is velvety smooth. Here’s how to make it.

First, gather all your ingredients.

Now, melt some butter in a pan.

And sauté sliced mushrooms with salt and pepper. MMMmmmmushrooms.

In a separate pot, sauté a small, chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.

In another separate pan (last one, I promise) brown your ground beef, breaking it up as it cooks.

Add the beef and mushrooms to the onion and garlic mixture and stir in spaghetti sauce, red wine, oregano, sugar and salt and pepper, to taste. Congratulations, the meat sauce is done. Onward!

Next, press cloves into a small white onion.

Put the onion in a microwave safe bowl with half and half (or whole milk if you prefer, but that’s where I draw the line), bay leaves and nutmeg.

Cook in the microwave on low heat until hot – this’ll infuse your half and half with all sorts of flavor. Strain. Not yourself. The milk.

Now cook flour and butter for a few minutes to form the basis of the sauce. It’ll make it nice and thick, but you need to be sure to cook it long enough to get rid of the floury taste. You can do this in the microwave or on the stove. Whatever floats your boat, just be sure to stir it as you go.

Once cooked through, whisk in the infused milk. The result should be a thick, luxurious (does that sound pretentious? … probably) sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Lick the spoon.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Double dip. Lick again.

So that’s the meat sauce and Béchamel taken care of. Now it’s time to assemble!

In lasagna pan, layer meat sauce, white sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and noodles.  You can add basil whenever it feels right. Repeat three times and cover with leftover meat sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, removing foil for the last 15.

Annnnd sprinkle with some more cheese. Because mmmmmm.

Admire your work.

And enjoy!

Ingredients (Meat Sauce)

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. finely ground ground beef
  • 1 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion (any kind, get creative), diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 jars store-bought spaghetti sauce, opened
  • 3/4 c. red wine (plus two glasses, set aside … you deserve it)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients (Béchamel Sauce)
  • 1 small onion
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 heaped tbsp. flour
  • 1 qt. whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 box of No-Boil lasagna noodles
  • Fresh mozzarella (optional)
  • Fresh basil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a saucepan and sauté sliced mushrooms with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a separate pot, sauté one chopped onion and chopped garlic in olive oil until soft. Set aside.
  3. In separate pan, brown ground beef, breaking it up as it cooks.
  4. Add the beef and mushrooms to the onion and garlic mixture and stir in spaghetti sauce, red wine, oregano, sugar and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  5. Press cloves into an onion and put in a microwave safe bowl with half and half, bay leaves and nutmeg.
  6. Cook in microwave on low heat until hot. Strain.
  7. Cook flour and butter for a few minutes to make a roux. Be sure to cook it through all the way to ensure there is no floury taste.
  8. Once cooked through, whisk in the infused milk and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°.
  10. In lasagna pan, layer meat sauce, white sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and noodles.  Optional: add basil to taste.
  11. Repeat three times and cover with leftover meat sauce and Parmesan cheese.
  12. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, removing foil for the last 15.

Fiona

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