The universe of Lasagna is huge and varied. This layered pasta dish can be a classic meat and cheese, a vegetarian roasted vegetable, or even a dessert lasagna. Lasagna alla mozzarella, which includes fresh mozzarella and luxurious besciamella white sauce, is simple to put together and also quick to cook if you use "oven-ready" sheets of lasagna that don't need to be boiled before assembling and baking.
- For the Besciamella Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk (warm or room temperature)
- Dash of salt, or to taste
- Dash of pepper, or to taste
- For the Lasagna:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for pan
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (you may not need it all)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella (drained)
- 10 to 12 sheets of "oven-ready" lasagna noodles
- 1 2/3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the Besciamella Sauce
In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until roux begins to turn a golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Slowly add the milk, constantly whisking, until the roux has blended into the milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Make the Lasagna
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) and butter a rectangular baking dish large enough to contain the ingredients.
Place the tomato sauce in a bowl. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the tomato sauce, together with the basil. Thinly slice the mozzarella.
Begin with a layer of pasta, followed by thin layer of tomato sauce (the cheese should not float in it), then the mozzarella, salt and pepper to taste, and another layer of pasta. Continue until all of these ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of pasta.
Sprinkle the grated Parmigiano over the lasagna, and evenly pour over the besciamella sauce.
Bake the lasagna for 15 minutes. Cover it with a sheet of parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes more. Let cool slightly before cutting for easier serving.
If you are using traditional lasagna noodles, which require boiling, prepare them first before making the besciamella sauce. Bring a pot of water to boil, add salt, and cook the lasagna sheets per the instructions on the package—or until they are barely al dente—and drain them on a clean dishcloth until ready to use.
To save time, you can use commercially prepared pasta sauce rather than plain tomato sauce. And instead of buttering the dish you can spoon some sauce on the bottom before placing the first layer of noodles.
When choosing the pan to use, make sure the sides are high enough to hold all of the layers; you don't want the sauce to overflow in the oven and create a big mess.
This recipe modifies well. For example, you could lay some thinly sliced ham or cooked chicken over the mozzarella. Or you could add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg to the besciamella sauce for a nice hint of warm spice. To bring up the nutrition value (and perhaps sneak in some veggies for the kids), feel free to add cooked vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, and even finely cut broccoli. Just be sure to drain any cooking liquid before layering in the lasagna as vegetables can add water and make the finished dish soggy.