Nigella Eats Everything

Writing on food and France

Classic lasagne with three cheeses

Before you immediately click off this recipe because of course you know how to make lasagne, or you may even be apologetically shrugging as if to say ‘so sorry Ally but my mum’s recipe for lasagne is unbeatable’, I’m just going to quickly say – you haven’t tried this lasagne.

And I’m also going to place this photo of the most incredible cheesy piece of lasagne straight in your eye-line.

Classic lasagne

Cue me refusing to make eye contact and whistling – who me? You want to see my lasagne recipe? Oh go on then! You twisted my arm! (My apologies, the cheese-porn is a cheap weapon and can convince anyone.)

It’s safe to say lasagne is a family-friendly meal. What is it about lasagne that makes grown-ups transform into over-excited children again? For example, lasagne was genuinely a weekly dinner when I lived with my sister and her boyfriend which we would eat with salad and garlic bread, off our laps in front of Big Little Lies. Now, living with Gaylord, whenever I suggest it as a potential dinner, his eyes light up in delight, and he immediately writes down the ingredients for us to pick up at the supermarket. Talk about enthusiasm.

That heady combination of rich beef ragu and cheesy bechamel, all combined and hidden a crisp crust – it’s enough to make the children inside us swoon.

As a result, the internet is already rather full of lasagne recipes!

My style of writing on this old blog might not be beneficial for SEO and all those other blogging catchphrases, so me adding an other ‘Classic lasagne’ to Google search pages is unlikely to do me any favours. However.

This lasagne is on another level.

What makes this lasagne recipe so special?

You might not have thought, but despite me being a food blogger, food writer and food photographer with an ever-growing obsession for, you’ve guessed it, food, Gaylord is the cook in this household.

He can whip up creative and mouth-watering dinners on just a hunch – that unbelievably delicious prawn, mushroom and whisky spaghetti – or he will fixate on a dish until he has mastered it – falafel, fried chicken burgers, the perfect mayonnaise. I, on the other hand, don’t quite have the same mid-week meal repertoire he does.

Except for this lasagne.

Classic lasagne

For me the secret isn’t leaving the meat sauce to bubble away to oblivion for hours. I’ve always found the day-long ragu too rich, too savoury.

There’s no red wine, no carrot, celery or bay leaves. I hope I’m not making a mockery of lasagne right now, dear reader.

For my lasagne, there is no definitive secret. Instead there a few ingredients and processes I include which I believe make the finished result taste incredible:

  • Rosemary: While I am well-aware there are loads of basil leaves in these photographs, I had an aesthetic in mind and then remembered there was no actual basil in the recipe only after we’d eaten it all. Instead, the warming fragrance of rosemary is seamlessly interwoven into the ragu’s base of onions and garlic, deepening the flavour.
  • Jugfuls of stock: There seems to be a lot of liquid in this recipe, as apart from stock there is also a tin of chopped tomatoes. When the pan of ragu looks like a soup which it will, don’t worry! The liquid evaporates and the beef emerges moist and meltingly tender without needing to lower the heat and cook for hours.
  • A controversial choice – Marmite: Before you click away in horror, I’ll just add this isn’t essential! Marmite is ferociously savoury and I like that hit of umami when combined with meat. For me, it’s a yeasty, funky substitute for Worcestershire sauce which, if it was available in France, would certainly be included instead.
  • Parmesan rind: Pile on that umami as that is what parmesan rind is for! When eating a dish made with tinned tomatoes, I always notice a distinct metallic undertone. This can be eased with spoonfuls of sugar, or a splash of vinegar, and also by parmesan rind which then softens in its ragu jacuzzi, giving the finished result a more full-bodied flavour.
  • Mozzarella: As you will see, there’s already a lot of cheese in the bechamel sauce. So, I wouldn’t advise you eat this lasagne if you’re on a diet. Especially as there are slices of mozzarella between the layers.
classic lasagne

So there you have five reasons to give this lasagne recipe a go. I would never plan to upstage your mum’s recipe, dear reader, but now you’ll have another to add to your repertoire.

Classic lasagne with three cheeses

Oh boy – this lasagne! It has so much flavour and richness, full of garlic and rosemary, and the cheese sauce and the cheesy topping are only for the brave. I'm in love and it's now a regular meal in our house which may not be good for our waistlines.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bechamel, beef, cheese, garlic, lasagne, rosemary, tomatoes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary finely chopped to amount to 1 full tsp
  • 1 tomato
  • 500 g ground beef mince
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400 ml beef stock from a cube
  • ½ tsp Marmite (optional!)
  • A chunk of parmesan rind
  • 8 lasagne sheets (depending on the size of your dish) dried, from a packet
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • Cheese to sprinkle

For the cheese bechamel sauce

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g flour
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 tsp mild mustard or ½ tsp of spicy mustard
  • A pinch of paprika
  • 60 g grated white cheese Emmental, Cheddar etc
  • 20 g parmesan
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Finely chop the onion and heat some olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add the vinegar and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Chop the tomato into small pieces and crush the garlic. Finely chop the rosemary leaves. Add the garlic and rosemary, along with some salt to the onions and cook for a minute, before tipping in the tomato pieces. Stir to combine all the flavours and cook gently, lowering the heat to prevent the garlic from burning.
  • Once the tomato is softened, add the beef mince. Season generously with salt and pepper, then break it up with your wooden spoon or spatula. The beef will give off a lot of water (depending on its quality!) so turn the heat up high to brown it all and to cook off the excess liquid.
  • Dissolve the beef stock cube in 400ml hot water and add the ½ tsp Marmite (if you want to!). Stir to dissolve in the hot water.
  • Once the beef is brown all over and combined with all the other ingredients in the pan, pour in the tinned tomatoes. Pour some of the stock into the empty tomato can to clean it. Empty it into the pan of ragu, then add a little more stock to the pan. It will appear quite full and a bit like beef soup, but that's ok, keep the heat on medium/medium-low and the liquid will gradually simmer and reduce.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and add the chunk of parmesan rind. Leave to simmer uncovered while you make the cheese sauce.
  • Now, it's time for the bechamel. Put the flour and butter in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has melted stir it into the flour to create a thick roux. Cook it for a minute then remove from the heat.
  • Pour in a splash of milk. It will sizzle but stir it into the roux and repeat slowly and gently, using a whisk to beat so each addition is smooth and creamy, until all the milk is incorporated. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring to the boil. Bubbles should appear on the surface and continue to stir to stop it from catching on the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes as it thickens then season with salt and pepper. Add the mustard and paprika and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and grated parmesan. It will immediately thicken further and become stringy but that's because there's a tonne of cheese in there! If it's too thick, add a splash more milk.
  • Meanwhile, the beef sauce will have thickened so add the remaining stock, stir and leave to bubble and reduce. Once tender and moist and everything in the pan is combined, taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off the heat and remove those pieces of parmesan rind.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F. In a baking dish, ladle out a big spoonful of beef and smooth it down. It should be quite a thin layer. Top with lasagne sheets, then a big scoop of bechamel. Smooth it over the pasta then top with a few torn pieces of mozzarella and a grating of one of your cheeses.
  • Repeat this until you have four layers. You should have finished the mozzarella before you reach the top layer. Don't save any for the top as it won't create the same stringy texture once it's been grilled for a long time.
  • Smooth the bechamel over the top and sprinkle with a little cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check on the lasagne and if it's bubbling and the topping is looking blistered and gold, turn on the grill to char the surface. Grill for 5 to 10 minutes and keep your eye on it.
  • Remove from the oven, slice into big pieces and serve with salad and garlic bread.

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20 responses to “Classic lasagne with three cheeses”

  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen Avatar

    I love a lasagne that includes a béchamel, and I definitely love a sauce that simmers with a Parmesan rind!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      I completely agree, so glad you also do the parmesan rind trick!

      1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen Avatar

        One of my favorite secret weapons!

      2. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

        Haha yes, mine too now!

  2. Chef Mimi Avatar

    Yep. I would eat this!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Haha if you do then enjoy! It’s meant to be for four, or just two greedy people on two days…

  3. Awakening Wonders Avatar

    One can never have enough really good lasagna recipes! Looks very tasty!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      I agree! Thank you so much!

  4. BERNADETTE Avatar

    Wonderful recipe. I always cook a tomato based sauce with parmesan rind. It gives it so much additional flavor.

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Yes it absolutely does, doesn’t it! I was so pleased with the finished result, no metallic flavour to be found! And thank you so much!

  5. NattyTravels Avatar
    NattyTravels

    It looks delicious! 😋

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh thank you so much! It’s rather mouth-watering!

  6. marietoday Avatar

    Ok, I’m intrigued… I’m devoted to my own lasagna recipe which uses spicy pork sausage, not beef, but I’d be willing to give this a try (although Worcestershire is easier to find here than Marmite, so I may have to make that switch)

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh my spicy pork sausage?! *immediately hunts your blog for the recipe* I am trying that! Yes I think Worcestershire sauce would be a great addition (my boyfriend hates Marmite and I haven’t told him that it’s in the lasagne yet, I’m just waiting for him to read the blog post to find out…)

  7. Thistles and Kiwis Avatar

    Guess what I am making on Sunday?

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh amazing! What a perfect meal for a Sunday!

      1. Thistles and Kiwis Avatar

        And I did and it was excellent – put it down the Marmite myself 🙂 I didn’t have a parmesan rind to hand though, but added a splash of red wine from an open bottle. It was probably the best lasagne I have ever made. Thanks for the inspiration!

      2. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

        Oh my goodness! I’m so touched you made it and I love the sound of a splash of red wine, bet that added a lovely note of richness. Thank you for trying it and for letting me know! I’ll keep the red wine in mind 😉

  8. […] Classic lasagne with three cheeses — Nigella Eats Everything […]

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