This is the best lasagna, with so many delicious layers of pasta, a homemade red sauce, ricotta layer, and béchamel layer. It’s packed full of so much flavor, is so cheesy, and is definitely a winner for dinner.
This lasagna has 5 delicious layers of each the noodles, red sauce, ricotta sauce, and béchamel. It’s topped with lots of cheese, and packed full of flavor for the best homemade lasagna you’ll ever have!
I love Italian food! I love their pastas, like the pesto casarecce pasta, or baked anelletti I’ve shared before.I love their fresh fruits and vegetables. I love their pastries. I love how simple they make their food, it is a true talent.
Craig and I lived in Sicily, in Palermo for 18 months a couple of years ago. Every Sicilian we met was kind and openhearted. Many of them were kind enough to share their pranzo meal with us.
What is Pranzo?
Pranzo is lunch, but not just lunch – the hours from 1 to 4 were special. It was a gathering time of family and friends for food and visiting with one another. A lot of businesses, even restaurants, shut down during Pranzo so everyone could have that time with their loved ones.
Pasta was usually served at pranzo, but not just any pasta. The most delicious pasta I could imagine. Most Italians did not make fresh pasta noodles, but the pasta was cooked fresh daily. Sicilians don’t really believe in leftovers. So the pasta noodles would often not be prepared until everyone was ready at the table. Then after the pasta dish the Italians would serve a meat dish for the second course. Then a fresh fruit. Then a simple dessert, like this easy carrot cake – Sicilians love carrot cake, or cheesecake – another favorite.
The other traditional Sicilian ingredients are a bechamel sauce, ricotta cheese mixture. and a red meat sauce. Don’t worry, these are easier to come together than you imagine.
What do I need to make lasagna?
This lasagna has so many delicious layers. It of course has noodles. The Sicilians often used flat lasagna noodles not the ones with ridges on the edges like American noodles usually have, but either are fine. I used no boil noodles to make this dish one step easier.
Then you have to have the red sauce, or the marinara sauce. The sicilians often just seasoned their sauce with garlic and basil, and that’s it. The sauce is simmered for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour because the longer it simmers the more flavorful the sauce becomes. Mine is made of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, dried basil, minced garlic and garlic salt.
Then you have a simple bechamel sauce, that is made from butter, flour, milk and salt and pepper. And a ricotta and cheese layer which is made of ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.
How to make lasagna?
This lasagna seems complicated, but it’s actually not too hard. It’s a lot of dishes, but I promise it’ll be worth the clean up.
Let’s start with the meat sauce, or our red sauce. You will brown the ground beef in a large sauce pan, and once it’s cooked drain off the extra grease. Add in the minced garlic and cook it for a couple minutes. Then add in stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Break up the tomato pieces as the sauce cooks, and stir the sauce every few minutes. Add the dried basil, and garlic salt. And let your sauce cook for 30 minutes at least, but up to 1 hour. The longer it simmers the more flavorful the sauce becomes. Taste the sauce before you’re almost ready to use it, and add in more salt if you need it.
Mix up the ricotta cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, and grated parmesan cheese in a large bowl. That’s it for that layer – set it aside till you’re ready to layer the lasagna.
The bechamel sauce is truly what makes this a Sicilian lasagna. Bechamel is just a simple white sauce. First melt the butter in a saute pan. Then you whisk in the flour, and let it cook for a minute or two, continuously whisking. Now whisk the milk in, and keep stirring it quickly as you pour it in so the sauce is smooth and the flour doesn’t chunk up. Cook it until it’s thickened slightly. Then add salt and pepper to taste.
The last step is assembling the lasagna. You’ll take a 9×13 pan, and spread about 1/4 cup of red sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place 3 flat noodles on top of this sauce so the bottom of the pan is completely covered. Don’t hesitate to break up a noodle a little to fit. Add 1/5 of the red sauce, spreading to cover the noodles completely. Add 1/4 of the bechamel sauce and spread it all over the red sauce and noodles. Now add in spoonfuls 1/4 of the ricotta cheese mixture, then spread it around. Don’t worry about using separate spoons, or how messy it gets because it’s all going to blend together anyway. Next is another layer of noodles, another layer of red sauce, another layer of bechamel, and another layer of ricotta cheese. Continue this for 2 more layers.
At this point there should be 5 layers of noodles. On top of this last layer of noodles, spread the last of the red sauce covering all the noodles. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Cover with foil and place in a 400 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake the lasagna for an additional 5 minutes or so to melt the top cheese. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Can you freeze this lasagna?
Lasagna is a great freezer meal. The best results will be to assemble the lasagna, then cover the pan tightly with foil and freeze. But you can also freeze the lasagna after baking it if you have leftovers (you may just end up with softer noodles the second time around when cooking)
I also sometimes split the recipe into two 8inch pans so I can freeze one to enjoy one pan now and one pan later.
This is the best lasagna you’ll ever make! It makes a big hearty pan of delicious cheesy lasagna, perfect served up with a side salad, or some garlic bread. It’s such a comfort meal, I mean, who doesn’t love a big pan of cheesy pasta?!
Looking for more Pasta Recipes?
- Cheesy Chicken Pasta
- Spinach Dip Pasta
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- Chicken Pot Pie Noodles
- One Pot Sausage Pasta
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For Red Meat Sauce:
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 15 oz can Italian stewed tomatoes
- 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
- 2 TBS minced garlic
- 1 1/2 TBS dried basil
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 2 TBS butter
- 2 TBS all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Ricotta Cheese Mixture
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (grated)
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese (minced or grated)
For Assembling Sicilian Lasagna:
- 15 flat no boil lasagna noodles
For Cheese Topping:
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Brown the ground beef in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Drain out the grease.
- Add the minced garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the Italian stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce, stir the sauce every few minutes, breaking up the stewed tomatoes as you stir.
- Add the dried basil and garlic salt, and lower the temperature to medium low.
- Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour - stirring every few minutes, add additional salt if needed (salt to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Spread about 1/4 cup of the red sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
- Layer 3 flat no boil noodles on top of sauce. Break a noodle as needed to cover the whole pan.
- Spread 1/5 of the red sauce over noodles, covering all of the noodles.
- Spread 1/4 of the bechamel sauce over red sauce
- Spread 1/4 of ricotta cheese mixture over the bechamel sauce
- Continue for to follow same pattern - noodles, red sauce, bechamel sauce, ricotta cheese mixture - for 3 more layers.
- Add a final layer of noodles, spread the last of the red sauce all over the noodles.
- Sprinkle 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella over the lasagna.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over lasagna
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake 5 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted and golden.
- Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into the lasagna and serving.