I call this Double Trouble Lasagne because I include both a ricotta filling and a béchamel sauce along with the meat ragout. It’s truly decadent and delicious. To offset the extra effort of making the béchamel, I suggest taking a shortcut and using jarred sauce – of course, it should be Rao’s Tomato Basil! Oh and of course there is never a need to pre-boil your lasagna noodles. Allow them to bake in the sauces in the oven.
However – this recipe is very forgiving too. If you don’t want béchamel sauce – leave it out! If you want to go meatless – leave it out! Any variation is delicious.
3 cups whole milk
1 stick of butter
½ cup flour
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
2 boxes curly lasagna noodles (any kind you like)
32-ounce tub of ricotta cheese
½ onion, finely diced
½ brick (8 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1-pound hot Italian sausage
1-pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal)
Splash (2 tablespoons) red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 ½ 24-ounce jars Rao’s Tomato and Basil Sauce
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium sized sauce pan, heat milk until scalding – edge of pot should show tiny bubbles – but milk should not be allowed to boil. In a separate pot, heat butter over medium heat until completely melted. Add flour and mix until a paste forms. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring constantly. Grate fresh nutmeg and stir to combine. Béchamel is done when you can coat the back of a spoon with the sauce and run your finger through – and a stripe remains. Set aside over lowest setting on the cooktop.
In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, onion, egg, both cheeses and salt and pepper. Mix until completely combined. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.
Over medium high heat, brown both sausage and meatloaf mix until no pink remains. Add a splash of red wine vinegar during cooking. When cooked, drain rendered fat and set aside. Allow to cool.
In a 13 x 9 baking dish, pour enough Rao’s Sauce (2 cups) to cover the bottom of the pan, Using an offset spatula (or spoon) “paint” raw lasagna noodles with Ricotta mixture. Carefully place in the bottom of the dish. You should be able to place about 4 noodles widthwise in the pan. Don’t be afraid to break noodles as necessary to fit them in – no one will ever know or see!
Next sprinkle about 1/3 of the meat mixture over the noodles. Pour about ¼ of the béchamel sauce over the meat, followed by more Rao’s sauce. Repeat with another layer of painted noodles. To add strength to your lasagna structure, place the noodles in the opposite direction (lengthwise) – again breaking noodles if necessary to fit.
You should be able to build 3-4 layers of lasagna, depending on the depth of your dish.
Finish with a generous handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil – ensuring it’s completely sealed. This will allow the sauce to sufficiently cook the noodles.
After 60 minutes, remove the foil and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes to ensure a clean wedge of lasagna the first time cut!
A great day for me is preparing great meals for friends and family. I enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and also updating classics that I've enjoyed for years. I love to travel and try lots of new cuisines - and wouldn't be anything without the love of my family!