I love family style dinners. With our crazy schedules it’s hard for everyone to sit down during the week at 6:30 p.m. to share a meal. That’s why weekends are so special – especially Sundays. This Bolognese Lasagna recipe is perfect for family-style meals and the beauty of it is it can be prepared ahead – putting the focus back on quality family time.
Making the Bolognese Sauce
Remove the casing from the sausage and break it up in pieces by hand. In a large, wide skillet brown the sausage and beef over medium to high heat. Using a wooden spoon, break up the large meat pieces until you have even meat crumbles. When most of the pink color is gone, add the onion and garlic and cook until the meat is browned. Drain the fat and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, combine the jar sauce, Chianti wine, brown sugar, basil, fennel seeds, oregano, Italian seasoning, black pepper, parsley and red pepper flakes. Add the meat mixture. Cover and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes. The meat sauce will be thick and rich in flavor.
Note: I do not add salt to the recipe because the sausage and cheeses contain the right amount of salt. If you wish to add salt to the bolognese sauce, do so sparingly. You can always place a salt shaker on the table.
In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, beaten egg, garlic powder, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Set aside until you’re ready to layer.
Butter a 9 X 13 inch deep casserole or baking dish. Spread 1 1/2 cups of bolognese sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange a pasta layer over the sauce. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Top with 1/3 of Six Italian cheeses shredded mix. Repeat layers again – bolognese sauce, pasta layer, ricotta mixture and Six Italian Cheeses shredded mix. Finish with remaining bolognese sauce and Six Italian Cheeses shredded mix.
Tip: Use a ladle to estimate the meat sauce when layering. You don’t need to measure it out exactly.
Allow the flavors to marry before baking at least a few hours. For best results, cover with plastic wrap and allow the lasagna to sit overnight. When ready to bake, bring the lasagna to room temperature for 30 minutes to remove the chill. Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy clean up) and place the lasagna on the baking sheet. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 25 minutes in a 375°F oven. Then remove foil and bake another 25 minutes uncovered. To get that golden crispy coloring, you may wish to broil the top for a New York minute. Don’t walk away from the oven whenever you are using the boiler – watch it like a hawk! Remove from oven when done and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Tip: to prevent the foil from sticking to the cheese, spray the foil with cooking spray.
Serve with a simple salad (or two), crusty bread and a the rest of that Chianti wine. Enjoy! Happy Sunday!
Best Bolognese Lasagna
This is the only meat lasagna I make. It's hearty and full of flavor. A family favorite!
- Bolognese Sauce
- 1 lb. mild or sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 lb. ground beef, lean
- 1 large onion, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (or mashed in a mortar and pestle)
- 2 32-ounce Tomato Basil sauce in glass jars (store bought)
- ½ cup Chianti wine (or water)
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (loose, not packed)
- ⅓ cup basil leaves, julienned (thin ribbons) or basil paste
- ⅓ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ⅓ teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Ricotta Cheese Mixture
- 1 32-ounce Ricotta cheese container, whole milk or 2% milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
- Noodles and Cheese for Layering
- 1 package fresh lasagna noodles/wonton wrappers/oven ready noodles
- 2 8-ounces Six Italian Cheeses Shredded mix (Sargento's)
- Garnish with minced parsley, optional
Making the Bolognese Sauce
Remove casing from the Italian sausage and break up in pieces. In a large, wide skillet over medium to high heat, brown the sausage and beef. Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat until they are bite size crumbles. When the meat is no longer pink, add the onion and garlic and continue to cook until meat is brown. Drain the fat and set meat aside.
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine the tomato and basil sauce in jars, red Chianti wine, brown sugar, basil leaves, fennel seeds, dry oregano, Italian seasoning, black pepper, parsley and red pepper flakes. (red pepper flakes add a layer of flavor without being spicy, but you can omit if you prefer). Add the meat mixture and simmer covered for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
Making the Ricotta Mixture
In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, egg, nutmeg, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Set aside until you assemble the lasagna.
Butter a 9 X 13 baking dish. Add a layer of meat sauce (about 1½ cups) to the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of pasta noodles over the meat sauce. Spread ½ of the ricotta cheese mixture and top with ⅓ of the Six Italian Cheese shredded cheeses.
Repeat layers – meat sauce, pasta noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and ⅓ Six Italian Cheese shredded cheeses.
Finish with remaining meat sauce and remaining Six Italian Cheese shredded cheeses.
Let it rest and marry for a few hours. For best results, let it sit overnight.
Allow lasagna to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the baking dish on a baking tray lined with foil to catch any spills when baking.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Spray the foil with cooking spray to prevent the foil from sticking to the cheese. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Optional: Broil for a minute until it has the desired golden color.
Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.