Made with a classic Bolognese sauce and Parmesan bechamel, with a touch of pecorino Romano and parsley. Plan ahead to make the Bolognese sauce the day before.
3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (divided)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 recipe Bolognese Sauce
1 pound dried lasagna noodles
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
1. Cook the pasta:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, salt it well and cook the pasta, a few sheets at a time, until not quite done (they should be soft, but still have a very slight crunch in the middle). Drain carefully in a colander (wide and flat makes this easier, see notes). Then lay the pasta flat on a large plate or platter until ready to use it. (Cook any broken pieces in the box as well. These can help fill in small spaces as needed during layering.) As the pasta cooks, make the bechamel in the next step.
2. Make the Parmesan bechamel:
Melt 1 1/2 Tablepoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Set the other 2 Tablespoons of the butter aside in a warm place to soften while you work. When the butter in the pan has melted, whisk in the flour to form a roux. Simmer the roux for about 3 minutes, whisking regularly to prevent browning. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the milk, whisking constantly to thoroughly combine it with the roux. Put the lid on askew and simmer the bechamel as it thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the bottom from browning.
Remove the bechamel from the heat. Reserve 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano reggiano, then whisk the rest of it into the bechamel along with a pinch or two of the cayenne and a pinch of nutmeg. Whisk until smooth. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed (unlikely with all that Parmesan, but you never know).
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and layer the lasagna:
Smear the softened butter all over the bottom of a 3-quart 9x13 inch lasagna pan or baking dish, then lay in a layer of lasagna noodles, covering the bottom but not overlapping. Layer the other ingredients over the noodles like this:
Use a spatula or the back of a spoon the spread the bechamel and bolognese evenly over each layer. All the bolognese will be used in the internal layers of the lasagna. For the top layer, smear on the last of the bechamel, then sprinkle evenly with the Pecorino and reserved Parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley and cover with foil.
4. Slide into the oven (middle rack) and bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbling. Remove the foil and bake for another 3-5 minutes. Rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
This is really great as written, but you could absolutely make more layers! Double everything: use a double-batch of Bolognese, make a double-batch of bechamel, and cook 2 pounds of pasta. (If I were making this for a crowd, that's what I'd do.) You'll need a deeper pan, and you'll probably need to extend the foil-covered phase of the baking time a bit. Whenever it's bubbling, remove the foil for the last 5 minutes, and you'll be good to go.
I'm including a link to an over-sink colander that makes draining long things like these noodles really easy.
You can layer the whole thing ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge until you're ready to bake. You can even freeze it, tightly covered, for later baking (though I've never done this). Likewise, this is a great thing to bring to a friend who you're helping with meals. You can deliver it un-baked with the baking instructions in Step 4 written out. And of course, you can bring it fully baked to a potluck!
This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, inspired by the foods in the Lemony Snicket books and Netflix series. (Don't worry - this dish is delicious. It's the story that's unfortunate.)