This recipe comes from Marilyn’s close friend, Peter Bianchi, whose roots are second generation Italian. Giussey is 88, and the family matriarch, living in Dongo, Lombardia, Italy, a town on Lake Como where Peter often visits. She prepares her special lasagna for the primo piatti (first course) at family gatherings. It is rich and satisfying. Outstanding with a full-bodied Pinot!
- 1 box lasagna pasta (non-boil type)
- 3 lbs hamburger
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 stalk celery finely diced
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups béchamel sauce
- 6 oz thinly sliced deli ham, cut in strips
- 6 oz soft white cheese (like havarti), cut in thin slices
- Grated fresh parmesan
MAKE THE RAGU
- Sauté the diced carrot, celery and onion in olive oil until soft (10 min.)
- Add ground beef and sauté until richly brown. (Drain off excess fat).
- Add wine and marinara to meat.
- Sauté partially covered until the liquid is reduced to a very thick sauce (1 hour or so).
MAKE THE BÉCHAMEL
- 2 T butter
- 2 T flour
- 2 cups milk
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 ts salt
Combine the butter and flour to make a rue. Slowly add the milk and whisk and heat until it thickens; it will not be overly thick, however. Add nutmeg and salt, remove from heat and set aside.
- Fold 1/4 of the béchamel into the beef ragu.
- In a 9 x 13 pan, spread 1/2 of the beef ragu.
- Cover with one layer of no-boil lasagna noodles.
- Layer thin slices of cheese over the noodles.
- Sprinkle with parmesan.
- Layer with half of the sliced ham.
- Cover with 1/2 of remaining béchamel
- Spread on remainder of beef ragu
- Layer with no-boil lasagna noodles.
- Layer with cheese; sprinkle on parmesan.
- Layer second half of sliced ham.
- Spread remainder of béchamel sauce. Note: Completely cover the noodles, tucking down any edges into the filling. If necessary, make a bit more béchamel! Lasagna is never completely precise in its layers.
- Top with remaining white cheese and parmesan.
- Pat 3 to 4 T butter on top.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until lasagna is starting to get golden brown and bubbly.
(Note: I cover loosely with foil for 20 minutes, and then remove for remaining 25 minutes or a bit longer.
Serves 4 to 6