Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese Sauce -
The Ultimate Comfort Food
I must confess I prefer the smoothness and creaminess of béchamel sauce when making my lasagna. I believe it gives a far superior result and it’s not too difficult to make. I also like to lighten the cheese content in lasagnas to make them healthier.
So as a compromise I have added the lighter and healthier ricotta cheese to the béchamel. But ricotta can be a little bland, and well, what’s a lasagna without parmesan, so I’ve thrown in some parmesan as well.
The result is a ricotta cheese lasagna with a deliciously creamy, cheese sauce layered with a rich tomato-flavored Bolognese sauce.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 55 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lbs / 1 kg ground beef
Jar tomato pasta sauce
28 oz / 800 g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
Packet instant lasagna sheets
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
80 g /3 oz / 1/3 cup butter
½ cup plain flour
3 cups milk
1 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
How to Make
Heat oil in pan and cook the onion and garlic until they are soft and translucent.
Add ground beef and cook, stirring until browned.
Stir in the pasta sauce and undrained, crushed tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened. Then stir in the chopped fresh oregano.
Note: It doesn’t matter which pasta sauce you use. I happened to have a jar of pasta sauce with basil in the pantry, so I used that.
To make the white sauce first heat the butter in a separate saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring until bubbly.
Add a small amount of the milk and mix to a smooth paste.
Add the rest of the milk and whisk until the sauce boils and thickens.
Remove from the heat and add the ricotta and grated parmesan. Stir until smooth.
Assembling your Lasagna
You will need a 12 cup (13 x 9 x 2 inch / 33 x 23 x 5 cm) ovenproof rectangular baking dish. Cover base with a few spoons of tomato sauce then cover with a third of the lasagna sheets. This will prevent the lasagna sheets sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Note: I use instant lasagna sheets that don’t need pre-cooking. Just make sure you cover them completely and use enough sauce to cook the noodles and they will be magnifico.
Spoon over half of the mince mixture then cover with a third of the ricotta mixture.
Repeat this procedure with another layer of lasagna sheets, the remaining mince mixture and another third of the ricotta mixture.
Top with the remaining lasagna sheets. Spread the remaining ricotta cheese mixture over the lasagna sheets, making sure you completely cover the sheets to prevent them drying out. Sprinkle with the grated tasty cheese.
Tear off a sheet of tin foil large enough to cover the baking pan and fold over the sides. Spray the sheet with non-stick cooking spray. This will prevent the cheese sticking to the tin foil.
Cover the lasagna with the foil and bake in a moderate oven 180°C / 350°F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 25 minutes or until the cheese has started to brown.
Remove from the oven and let the lasagna stand for 10 minutes. This allows the sauces to set and makes it much easier to cut.
Serve with green salad and crusty bread.
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