Fresh chopped herbs, caramelized vegetables, browned meat, and five kinds of cheese bubbling and browned to perfection.
How bad do you want it?
That bad? Good. Because at first glance, this lasagna bolognese recipe might look a bit involved. However, I assure you that every step and ingredient is absolutely *essential* to making this the most amazing lasagna you will ever taste. And conquering this mother will make you feel like the amazing badass we both know you are.
Jumping ahead, step 1 involves pouring yourself a glass of wine, taking a few swigs, and cranking up the music. Why? Because we’re gonna be hanging out for a minute so we might as well have some fun. I recommend starting with classic rock when it’s about to get real, something like Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. Did you know that Robert Plant is actually singing about his burning desire for lasagna? No?
“You’ve been cooling. And baby I’m not fooling…” A great reminder to pay attention to the final step. (“Keep it coolin’ baby,” to let all that deliciousness gel.)
We’re going to be hanging out for a while today, so sit back, relax, and…
Just kidding. Get your ass in the kitchen. We’ve got work to do.
PS – Apologies for the amateur action shot. We were too busy wiping up our drool to bother.
Whole Lotta Lasagna Bolognese
- Food processor (optional). Note: If you have picky eaters, I *highly* recommend investing in a food processor for this recipe, as well as most of my other recipes. I am obsessive about vegetables because a) they are nutrient dense and b) packed with flavor when cooked properly. I recently had 3 kiddos devour this lasagna, having no idea there were over 10 cups of 8 different kinds of vegetables hiding beneath those gooey layers of cheese, because I CHOPPED THE SHIT OUT OF THEM.
- 1/4 cup olive oil (divided in half)
- 3/4 lb Italian sausage, casing removed (I prefer mild for this dish, but if you like hot, go for it. Also, you can typically find Italian sausage behind most butcher counters without the casing on it.)
- 3/4 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2-3 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4-6 toes garlic, chopped (about 2-3 tablespoons)
- 10-12 cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped (About 2.5 cups. Note: I prefer the texture and flavor of cremini, but both work well for this recipe.)
- 2 medium zucchini, chopped (about 1.5 cups)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup dry white wine (red will do as well if you're in a pinch)
- 2.5 lbs fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped (or one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, + one 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (about 1/2 can)
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (If you need to sub with frozen, be sure to thaw, drain & chop first.)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2.5 teaspoons dried basil)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 1-1.5 teaspoons dried oregano)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- salt to taste I mainly cook with iodized sea salt and use about 2 teaspoons for this recipe. If you're using table salt (which is MUCH saltier), start with just 3/4-1 tsp & increase to taste from there. My suggestion is always start on the lower range and see what feels right for you.
Cottage cheese mixture
- 16 ounces cottage cheese (I prefer the flavor and texture of cottage cheese to ricotta in my lasagna. However, if you prefer ricotta to cottage cheese, you can sub the same amount here. If you do, I recommend adding 1 egg white to keep it from making the lasagna too runny.)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- salt & pepper to taste
Grated cheese layer
- 8 ounces mozzerella, grated
- 8 ounces parmesan, grated
- 8 ounces fontina, grated (Note: If you cannot find this cheese, you can sub with extra parm & mozz blend. But I highly recommend trying to find it if you can!)
- 8 ounces Kaltbach Le Crémeux, grated (Note: If you cannot find this cheese, you can sub with extra parm & mozz blend. But I highly recommend trying to find it if you can!)
- 12 lasagna noodles (I prefer regular to the "no boil" lasagna, which I find a bit too mushy, and then I can't flavor it with salt when I boil. However, it is more work. If you're in a pinch, no boil will do.)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (Or 3/4 tsp regular table salt.)
- Pulse in food processor (or rough chop by hand) all vegetables listed above so that they are ready when you need them. Just be sure to keep garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach separate from other vegetables, as they will go into the sauce at different times.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to pan and heat on medium high. When the oil claps back at you, it's ready.
- Add ground beef and Italian sausage and saute for 10-15 minutes, until meat is nicely browned.
- Remove meat from pan and set aside.
- In the same pot, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once it's hot, add onions, bell pepper, and carrots and saute for about 15 minutes, until onions begin to brown and carmelize. (Note: you may need to lower the fire to medium, depending on your stove. We want the onions to brown a bit, but not blacken!)
- Add garlic and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium if you haven't already, then add mushrooms, zucchini, both meats, and milk. Cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium low, add wine and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered this time, until most of the liquid burns off. Drink the rest of the wine.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, spinach, basil, oregano, salt, and peppers to taste. Lower heat to low, and continue to cook another 30-40 minutes, covered.
- Once bolognese sauce is done, remove from heat and let cool.
- While sauce is simmering, boil lasagna according to package directions, adding oil and salt as outlined in ingredients list above. Once the noodles are done, drain in a collander and rinse with a little cool water to help prevent sticking before draining again. Note: I like to boil on the lower end of the time range so the noodles aren't too mushy after baking the lasagna.
Make Cottage Cheese Mixture
- While bolognese sauce is cooling, in a separate bowl, mix ingredients outlined in "cottage cheese mixture" above.
- Once the bolognese sauce has cooled, fold in cottage cheese mixture and set aside. Note: If you need to save time on the day you make the lasagna, consider making the bolognese sauce ahead of time and refrigerating for a day or two. This allows the flavors even more time to marinate, and saves you time on baking day.
Make Grated Cheese Layer
- Mix four cheeses together, as outlined in the "Grated cheese layer" in ingredients list above.
Prep and Bake Lasagna
- Preheat oven to 425.
- In a 9x13 baking dish, place 1/3 of bolognese sauce into the bottom of the pan. Add one layer of boiled lasagna noodles (usually 3 noodles), then add 1/3 of the cheese blend. Repeat these steps until you have your final layer of cheese on top. Note: You may have extra lasagna noodles - no biggie. I like to boil a few extra noodles than I need in case some break during boiling.
- Get a layer of foil to cover your lasagna, but before you place it on lasagna, rub 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil on the foil to prevent it from sticking to the cheese layer. Cover lasagna and bake for 30 min.
- After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly. Note: If your cheese isn't browning, consider cranking up the heat 25 degrees after removing the foil.
- Remove from oven and let cool for *at least* 15 minutes before serving. If you don't, you'll have a big plate of messiness and a heart full of regret.
- ENJOY :)!