ITALIAN LASAGNA WITH BECHAMEL SAUCE
For the Bechamel Sauce:
5 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Cup Flour
4 Cups Whole Milk
For the Tomato Sauce:
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Chopped
2-3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Tony’s Chachere, Basil, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Parsley, 1 Tbsp Sugar, to taste
2 (28 oz) Cans Crushed Tomatoes
2 Dried Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lb Ground Beef (or 1/2 Lb Ground Beef, 1/2 Lb Italian Sausage)
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Tony’s Chachere, to taste
For the Cheese:
16 oz Ricotta Cheese
3 Large Eggs
1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Parsley, to taste
1 Box Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
1-2 Tbsp Butter
8 Oz Shredded Mozzarella
Preheat oven 350.
For Tomato Sauce: In large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and celery. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Tony’s, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, parsley and 1 Tbsp of sugar. Saute until vegetables until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves. Simmer on low heat about 30 minutes or until thick (place lid half way on pot so that it doesn’t splash all over). Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add 2 Tbsp butter. Cool about 15 minutes. Once cooled, add bechamel sauce and mix well.
For Bechamel Sauce: In 2 quart pot, melt 5 Tbsp butter over medium heat. When butter has melted, add flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Continue to simmer and whisk over medium heat until sauce is thick and creamy, about 10 minutes. The sauce will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
For the Beef: In a saute pan, heat oil. When hot, add ground beef. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Tony’s. Brown meat, break it into small pieces, and cook until it is no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain oil. Set aside and allow to cool.
For the Cheese: In a medium bowl, mix ricotta and eggs. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sprinkle in parmesan and parsley. Mix well and set aside.
In the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish, spread 1/3 of the bechamel tomato sauce. Arrange the pasta sheets side by side covering the bottom of the dish. Evenly spread all of the ricotta mixture. Arrange another layer of pasta sheets. Spread all of the ground beef on top. Sprinkle 1/2 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 sauce. Add the remainder of the mozzarella. Cut 1-2 Tbsp butter into small cubes and place on top of lasagna.
Cover dish and place on middle rack of the oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue to bake another 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and browning.