If you think lasagne is a meat-and-tomato-sauce-only dish, think again. This staple of my youth is elegant, mouthwatering, and can easily be part of a multi-course meal without filling you up. Just remember that with no-boil lasagne noodles, they won’t cook properly unless each ‘sheet” is completely covered in sauce.
Yields: 3 cups / Prep time: 5 minutes / Cook time: 20 minutes
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serves: 6 / Prep time: 10-15 minutes
- 4 cups of fresh basil leaves (about 4 oz)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup of pinoli (pine nuts), toasted
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Romano
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serves: 8 / Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 35 minutes
- Butter for greasing the pan
- 3 cups Besciamella (recipe above)
- 1 1/2 (9-ounce) boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles
- Pesto (recipe above)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
- In a small saucepan, warm up the milk over medium heat.
- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the flour.
- Add the warm milk to the butter-flour mixture and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.
- Season the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Taste to ensure the flour flavor has dissipated. If you still taste the flour, cook a few minutes longer.
For a thicker besciamella, add 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon of flour and cook for a few minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
To thin a sauce, add 1 tablespoon milk (or 2 if needed).
- Using a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, combine the olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and garlic and blend until a paste forms.
- Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses, and pulse until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste(be mindful that that the cheeses are salty).
- Keep covered, air-tight, in the fridge until you’re ready to use it; this will prevent it from oxidizing and turning dark.
ASSEMBLING THE LASAGNE
- Preheat the oven to 375º F. Now that you have (or have made) the besciamella and the pesto, you only need a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 (9-ounce) boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles.
- Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or aluminum pan.
- Spread a thin layer of besciamella (about 1/2 cup) over the bottom of the dish.
- Cover with a layer of lasagne noodles, then another thin layer of besciamella. Gently spread 4 tablespoons of pesto across the surface, followed by about 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan.
- Repeat the process until you reach the top, which should be a final layer of noodles and an uppermost layer of besciamella, topped with pesto and Parmesan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top. For a nice crisp coating, turn on the broiler and bake for another 5 minutes(keep a watchful eye on this step, so top does not burn).
- Lest rest for 5 minutes before serving. Keep extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan handy for a final garnish before serving.