Listen, I know that the internet is full of lasagna recipes. There’s everything from the jarred sauce and pre-shredded cheese kind to some that take three days and are lovingly layered with from-scratch bolognese, béchamel, and pasta made by hand. If you’re looking for a lasagna to suit your tastes, there’s a decent chance it’s out there…unless, of course, you were hoping to find mine.
I have been making lasagnas for people for years. Truthfully, if you ask nicely and pay for my ingredients, transportation, labor and time, I’ll come right to your house, tie on an apron, and fill your freezer with tightly-wrapped aluminum pans of layered bolognese, cheese, and pasta with an index card with baking instructions scotch taped on top. If, however, I’m out of your budget and you don’t want to have to interpret my handwriting, it’s your lucky day—Lasagna a la Betsy is finally on the blog.
Now, what makes it “a la Betsy”? Well, half of everyone I know started calling me Betsy seven years ago, and while I introduce myself as “Liz” everywhere but Starbucks, I like that nickname whenever it suits me, which includes but isn’t limited to when I make lasagna. Also, this recipe is authentic to nothing—I am not trying to make this as lovingly as anyone’s Italian grandmother, I’m just trying to get dinner on the table today (and maybe sometime in a few weeks). But mostly, it’s a la Betsy because it’s what I like in my lasagna, and it’s made the way I like to make it. Period, end of story.
The “bones” of Lasagna a la Betsy are similar to many classic recipes. It starts with making my tried and true bolognese sauce from scratch. I usually do this a day ahead to split up the work, but it can be made the same day the lasagnas are assembled. It takes about three hours of browning and simmering beef, sausage, mushrooms and aromatics, but the results are meaty and rich and worth it all, I promise. Frankly, the sauce is the most time consuming part of this whole process; the rest is just layering. And oh, they are good layers.
You know the stuff: shredded mozzarella, spoonfuls of parmesan-spiked ricotta, the bolognese, some no-boil noodles… Yeah, I use the no-boil noodles—they’re one of the only convenience ingredients that I will swear by. I’ve used the boil-yourself kind and they are delicious, but they can be finicky and take a while. I like saving myself a little stress. I mean, I already made the sauce from scratch. That said, use whichever noodles work for you.
My personal favorite part of my lasagna recipe? It makes two! Unless you have a huge family or are having a party, you probably don’t need a 9×13” pan of lasagna, but two 8” square pans? One for now and one for the freezer? Yeah, that’ll work. Future you is going to be so happy you planned ahead. Current me is already pretty jazzed about it.
To that end, I’ve included instructions for baking lasagnas right away, as well and freezing and baking from frozen. Whichever path you choose, you’re in for a treat. Hot homemade lasagna (a la Betsy or otherwise) is always a treat.
Lasagna a la Betsy
makes two 8-inch square lasagnas (each 4-6 servings)
1 recipe Bolognese Sauce (about 9-10 cups)
16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
pinch of ground nutmeg
a few grinds freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) shredded mozzarella (fresh, low-moisture whole milk, or a mix)
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Make the bolognese sauce. Remove from heat and let cool for at least an hour before assembling lasagnas. Alternatively, make the sauce the day before and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. It can be used cold.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease 2 8-inch square baking dishes. If using aluminum pans or freezing the lasagnas, line them with parchment.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta, egg, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Stir in 1 cup grated parmesan. Set aside.
Assemble lasagnas. Spread 1/2 cup bolognese sauce in the bottom of one of the prepared pans. Top with 2 no-boil lasagna noodles (do not overlap them). Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top, then sprinkle on 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, and drop 1/4 of the ricotta mixture (about a heaping 1/3 cup) in spoonfuls over the top. Top with 2 more lasagna noodles, then another layer with 1 cup bolognese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, and 1/4 of the ricotta mixture. Top with 2 more noodles, then 1 cup sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella over the top, followed by 2 tablespoons grated parmesan. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Repeat layering process with remaining ingredients and prepare pan. Freeze any leftover bolognese (I usually have 1 1/2 cups leftover).
To bake lasagna immediately: cover with foil, making sure to tent it at the top so it doesn’t touch the cheese or sauce. Place the pan(s) on a sheet pan (to catch any mess). Bake 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until browning in places and getting a little crispy at the edges. Let cool 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
To freeze unbaked lasagna: cut a 7-inch square of parchment and lay it on the top of the lasagna. Triple-wrap the pan with plastic wrap. Wrap with foil. Freeze for up to one month.
To bake a lasagna from frozen: Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove frozen lasagna from the freezer. Remove and discard foil, plastic wrap, and parchment. Cover the pan with fresh foil, making sure to tent it at the top so it doesn’t touch the cheese or sauce. Place the pan(s) on a sheet pan (to catch any mess). Bake 75 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until browning in places and getting a little crispy at the edges. Let cool 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Leftover lasagna will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Oh boy does this one look good!