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Get ready to fall for the lovely layers of this lasagna al forno recipe! It’s got tender layers of pasta with rich, hearty bolognese sauce and creamy bechamel.
Then, we top it all off with bubbly mozzarella cheese.
This classic recipe is perfect for special occasions or for whenever you’re in the mood for some cozy comfort.
What is Lasagne al Forno?
The literal translation of al forno is “oven baked”. Lasagne al forno is a baked Italian classic that typically consists of layers of wide, flat pasta sheets (lasagne), alternating with a rich and flavorful combination of bolognese meat sauce, béchamel sauce and melted cheese.
While there’s a bit of controversy about whether or not ricotta cheese is allowed in authentic lasagne al forno, one thing everyone agrees on is that Parmesan cheese is always required.
(Side note – there is no ricotta cheese in this recipe!)
Ingredients for Lasagne al Forno
We are using no boil lasagna noodles in this recipe. I have found that traditional lasagna noodles, which require boiling, add too much moisture to a lasagne recipe. This results in a watery lasagne that falls apart when you cut into it.
Fresh pasta sheets are an excellent choice. However, homemade pasta can be time consuming to make. And fresh pasta can be expensive to buy.
For these reasons, we’re using no boil noodles which – in my experience – give you the best results every time.
The Bolognese Sauce
- Ground meat. I know I might draw some shade for this, but I use ground turkey to make bolognese sauce because I don’t eat beef. You can absolutely use ground beef or even ground pork in this recipe!
- Italian sausage. If you have a choice between hot sausage or mild, go for the hot kind. It’s where the flavor is!
- Tomato puree. Thinner in consistency than tomato paste and thicker than tomato sauce, tomato puree is the perfect base for this meat sauce.
- Sweet pepper strips. You’ll find these in a jar in the Italian aisle of the grocery store. They add a subtle sweetness to the sauce.
- Dried spices – parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, sugar
The Bechamel Sauce
Bechamel is a white sauce that adds a creamy, garlicky dimension to our homemade lasagna. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
How to Make Lasagne al Forno
Make the Bolognese
Saute the onions, garlic and sweet peppers in a little bit of olive oil. Then, add the ground meat and sausage and brown everything up.
Last, pour in the tomato puree and all the seasonings.
Now, just let the sauce simmer on the stove while you make the bechamel.
Make the Bechamel
The base of the bechamel sauce is a roux. A roux is simply butter and flour, cooked together until bubbling. We’re adding salt and garlic to our roux, which is pretty standard as well.
So once the roux is bubbling, pour in the milk, broth and cheeses.
The bechamel sauce will get thicker as it cooks. You want a smooth, creamy texture that’s not too runny. It will take about 5-7 minutes to achieve the right texture.
Assemble the Lasagne
We’re using a big ol’ 9×13 casserole dish for this one. First, spread a thin layer of bolognese on the bottom of the pan.
Now, let’s start our layers. Here’s how they go:
1. Pasta. Arrange the lasagna noodles over the sauce, slightly overlapping layer over layer so there are no gaps.
2. Bechamel. Spread the white sauce over the noodles, taking care to completely cover them.
3. Bolognese. Spread over the bechamel to cover, but you don’t need to be as specific about covering the noodles.
4. Parmesan cheese.
Repeat this pattern for a total of 3 layers.
Finally, add one last layer of lasagna noodles and bolognese. A generous heap of mozzarella cheese goes on last.
Tips for Success
For best results, keep these things in mind:
1. No boil noodles need moisture to cook! That’s why it’s important to completely cover the noodles with sauce. Any uncovered noodles will become dry and hard to chew.
2. There should be pasta in every bite! Don’t ever hesitate to break up the lasagna noodles to make them fit the pan. If you see gaps, overlap the noodles. More gaps? Break up the pasta pieces and stick them where they need to go.
3. Allow your lasagne to rest before cutting. If you want nice, clean cuts, let your lasagne rest for a minimum of 20 minutes before you cut into it. Don’t worry, it will still be piping hot when you serve it!
Lasagna vs. Lasagne
The term “lasagna” is often used in English to refer to the dish as a whole, while “lasagne” is the plural form of “lasagna” in Italian. In its authentic Italian context, “lasagna” refers to the individual sheets of pasta, while “lasagne” encompasses the layered dish.
Variations on this Lasagna al Forno Recipe
In Northern Italy, the birthplace of lasagne, a classic lasagna recipe will include a layer of pasta, a meat mixture and a creamy béchamel sauce.
Go further south in Italy, and you may see the addition of a ricotta mixture, mozzarella and a more tomato-centric sauce.
Of course, there are also vegetarian versions of lasagne that swap the bolognese for tomato sauce or add a medley of vegetables.
How to Store Lasagna al Forno
Wait until your lasagna has cooled to room temperature. Then, wrap each square in plastic wrap and place them into an airtight container or large freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
Refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you want to keep it for longer, pop it into the freezer.
How to Reheat Lasagna al Forno
To reheat, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, cover the lasagne with foil to prevent excessive browning, and heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.
If reheating from frozen, allow more time, typically 45-60 minutes.
So grab a glass of your favorite red wine and let’s enjoy this traditional lasagna recipe together!
And when you make it, I’d love to hear about it. Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more Italian recipes, try these:
- Best Chicken Cutlet Sandwich Recipe (Italian Style)
- Turkey Sausage Pasta Bake
- Zesty Italian Chicken Soup
Lasagna al Forno Recipe (Baked Pasta Bolognese)
- 12 oz. no boil lasagna noodles
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese grated
- bolognese sauce recipe below
- bechamel sauce recipe below
- 2 28 oz. cans tomato puree
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1/2 cup sweet pepper strips diced
- 14 oz. Italian sausage
- 12 oz. ground meat beef or turkey
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. dried basil
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 1/2 cups milk
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese grated
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and minced garlic. Cook until softened and sizzling.
- Add the diced sweet pepper strips. Cook another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the ground meat and Italian sausage. Brown the meat, using a wooden spoon or potato masher to bread it into small pieces.
- Pour in the tomato puree and all of the spices. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour, garlic and salt. Saute 1-2 minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble.
- Stir in the milk, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
Assemble the Lasagne
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spread a thin layer of bolognese sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.
- Arrange lasagna noodles in a single layer over the sauce. It's okay if they overlap a bit. Break the noodles as necessary to cover the bottom of the baking dish.
- Spread a layer of bechamel sauce over the noodles, followed by a layer of bolognese sauce and 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese.
- Repeat this pattern two more times: noodles, bechamel, bolognese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
- Finish with a final layer of noodles. Spread the remaining bolognese sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.
- Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 45-50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Allow the lasagne to rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting into it.