We’re both pretty big lasagna fans. Who isn’t, right? There’s nothing better than opening a warm oven and pulling out that baking dish filled with bubbling layers of cheese, pasta, and bolognese sauce. It’s always one of the first dishes we make whenever the seasons start to get a little colder at night. Especially on a Sunday, when we have the time to spend all afternoon prepping the sauce which not only fills the dish but each room of our house as well. As an even greater bonus, it’s the perfect dish for leftovers as well. After dinner on Sunday, we have lunch for the first couple days of the work week.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve had to work with Jane’s altered dietary needs due to endometriosis. In order to minimize the pain, she’s had to eliminate certain types of food from her regular diet. Abstaining from gluten over the past year has helped a great deal so we’re always looking for ways to recreate our favorite dishes with a gluten free version. Luckily for her, in 2018 it’s becoming a bit more easier to adapt, especially with gluten free pasta. Most of our local groceries caring several brands producing gluten free versions from lasagna to fettuccini to fusilli providing us with multiple ways to cook Italian at home. Not all of them are perfect, and there’s been a lot of trial and error, but we’ve found that any made from brown rice flour tend to work best. Our two favorite brands so far are Jovial and Deboles.
The below recipe can easily be made with traditional pasta and all purpose flour for the béchamel as well. Just replace as you see fit. The true star of the show is the bolognese sauce. It takes some time, as most versions do, but they are well worth it in the end. Jane even likes to watch movies in the kitchen during the process so she can stick around to stir here and there.
Things of note – We like to prep the ricotta first. That way the thyme and seasonings have a chance to incorporate the cheese. Plus, you don’t have to worry about it later when you’re busy dealing with the béchamel.
Also, just before you assemble the layers, soak the pasta in hot water for 10 minutes. It gives the cooking process a little head start and creates a far more consistent bite after baking. Ready bake dry lasagna doesn’t always cook all the way through when you’re dealing with a less wet sauce like bolognese.
We used a 5.5qt Dutch oven for the bolognese. Check out the Milo for a great affordable option.
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 strips of bacon (or pancetta)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground chuck
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 pinch ea of salt and pepper
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 grate of nutmeg
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1 14oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
4 tbsp of butter
4 tbsp of white rice flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch ea of salt and pepper
1 grate of nutmeg
Oven ready lasagna pasta
1 cup of fresh mozzarella
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, cover and store in the refrigerator until time to assemble the lasagna before baking.
Place bacon in a cold 5.5 quart dutch oven and turn heat to medium low until fully rendered but not quite crisp. Remove from pan while leaving the oil in the pot and set aside to drain.
Add onion, carrots, and bell pepper to dutch over and cook until soft (approx 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic at the end and cook for about a minute.
Add ground beef, sausage, spices and herbs until mixed and the meat is evenly crumbled. Cook until the meat has lost all of its red color.
Pour in milk and grate a little nutmeg in for taste. Bring to a low simmer and cook, while stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced almost entirely (approx 20 minutes).
Add wine and allow to simmer until evaporated and then add tomatoes, reserved bacon, and mushrooms. Stir until evenly mixed and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Near the end, taste for flavor in case you need to add a touch more seasoning.
When finished, remove from heat while you prepare the dry pasta and béchamel.
We recommend soaking gluten free dry pasta in hot water for 10 minutes before assembling the layers in the baking dish. Even if it claims you don’t need to on the box. We’ve tested it many times now and it always works out better when we soak beforehand. Every time we didn’t the pasta cooked unevenly leaving several areas that were hard and uncooked.
We also recommend pasta made from brown rice flour as opposed to other options when using gluten free pasta for both texture and flavor.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add white rice flour.
Cook, while whisking constantly, for approximately 5-6 minutes until the roux becomes darkened and reddish.
Add milk in a slow steady stream while whisking and heat until it thickens. Add paprika, nutmeg, and salt & pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 F and butter a baking dish at least 13 x 9 x 3.
We typically assemble with the first two bottom layers featuring just bolognese and béchamel. The third (or middle layer) is just ricotta. When then add one more layer of bolognese and béchamel with the final top layer just béchamel and mozzarella.
The beauty of making lasagna is that you can fill the layers however you prefer. Sometimes, if we have bolognese leftover, we add that to the top layer as well.
Bake until the top is brown and bubbly, approx 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.