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Lisa’s Lasagne al Forno (the real Italian lasagne!)

Real Italian Lasagna

There is a world of difference between Italian-American lasagne and lasagne in Italy (the real Italian lasagna!). Italian-American lasagne is mostly cheese: ricotta, mozzarella, and parmigiano. Although no one can be sure, presumably this is another example of Italian-Americans finding prosperity in the U.S. and translating this new found prosperity into their recipes. Cheese was (and still is today, although not as much as in the U.S.!) expensive in Italy and certainly would never have been used in great quantities in one pasta dish. That is why it has always been used as more of a condiment, a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on pasta or soup, a grating of mozzarella on top of pizza. In Italy, real Italian lasagne consists of many layers of the lasagne pasta and the ragù meat sauce. Besciamella, the wonderful sauce made of butter, flour and milk, is added to the ragù to give a smooth texture to the lasagne. Parmigiano is then sprinkled over each layer of sauce. Who knows which you will prefer, the Italian-American or real Italian lasagne variety? In my family, I am the only one who makes the real Italian lasagne variety, but everyone at my table loves it just as I love the Italian-American lasagne. Variety is the spice of life!

You can watch me make this real Italian lasagne dish on the Lisa’s Italian Kitchen YouTube channel here.

Buon Appetito e Tutti a Tavola!


Real Italian Lasagne Ingredients:

Real Italian Lasagne

2 lbs imported Italian lasagne noodles

1 large pot of Grandma Caponigri’s Three Meat Neapolitan Sauce or 2 jars of Lisa’s Italian Sunday Sauces, Three Meat

Medium sized pot of Besciamella Sauce (also in Lisa’s recipe for Lasagne in Bianco here)

2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Real Italian Lasagne Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the lasagne noodles for 1 minute. Run the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking then lay the lasagne noodles out flat on cotton dish towels on the table. Cover the lasagne noodles with dish towels to prevent the noodles from becoming too dry.

Real Italian Lasagne

Follow this recipe to make the ragù sauce.

Real Italian Lasagne

To make the besciamella sauce: Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Slowly add the flour and mix it into the butter with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been incorporated into the butter. Slowly begin to pour in the milk. While the milk is thickening slightly in the pan, add the salt and grated nutmeg. The besciamella should coat the back of a wooden spoon, but still be thin enough to spoon with a ladle over the lasagne.

Real Italian Lasagne

In a large casserole, at least 9″ x 13″ x 2 1/2″ deep, cover the bottom of the casserole with a layer of the ragù sauce. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagne, begin with the ragù sauce on the bottom of the casserole followed by a layer of lasagne noodles. (Note: In Italy 3 or 4 lasagne noodles are placed on top of each other to form each layer, making the pasta layers much thicker than in the United States.) Follow lasagne squares with a layer of ragù, then beciamella, then parmigiano, then lasagne noodles and repeat until the casserole is full. Top the lasagne with a thick layer of parmigiano.

Real Italian Lasagne

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly and golden on top. Allow to stand 5-10 minutes (or more) before serving.

Real Italian Lasagne

About the Author
Lisa Caponigri is the author of This is Sunday Dinner and Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?, published by Sterling Epicure. Both of Lisa's cookbooks brim with her memories of living in Italy, both as a child and as an adult raising her own family, anecdotes about her family, regional and seasonal Italian specialties, and all the advice needed to get a spectacular Sunday Dinner on the table, every Sunday of the year. She has developed a line of prepared foods and sauces called Lisa’s Italian Kitchen. Lisa debuted on HSN and has appeared on QVC. She has also appeared on a variety of television programs, including Seattle's New Day Northwest, Good Morning Toronto, Chicago's WGNLunchbreak, and New England Cooks, to name a few. Lisa is frequently consulted as an expert in Italian lifestyle and food. Lisa Caponigri lives in South Bend, IN and travels frequently to Italy to research the latest in "la dolce vita". Visit to learn more about Lisa!