Lasagne bolognese – first time in years!

I was rummaging through my cupboards to see what random things I’d purchased that I’ve forgotten about over the years, and I found some no-boil lasagne noodles I’d purchased at Trader Joe’s. I still remember when I bought this item, too: it was in autumn 2021 when I was very pregnant, and I thought then that a good dish to make while on maternity leave would be lasagne. Well, little did I know that layering pasta noodles with a long-simmered meat or vegetable sauce and different cheeses would be little priority with a tiny human to constantly care and pump milk for.

So I took out the package and decided that lasagne for our home was long, long overdue. I used my latest Butcherbox ground beef to make a four-hour simmered bolognese sauce on Friday. It even injured me with all the bubbling, as the sauce popped everywhere, including the inside of my right wrist, which still has purple-red bruise marks from the burn marks. Lucky me with my food prep, I already had my parmesan finely grated and stored in the freezer for future use. And today, I spent the late morning layering my lasagne in my much-neglected 13×9 casserole pan. And it felt really fun and satisfying. Lasagne making is almost like therapy. It’s very methodical but doesn’t take too much thinking. Once you know the method: one layer of noodles, one 1-cup layer of bolognese, one 1/2-cup layer of bechamel, and one 1/3-cup layer of grated parmesan — you just keep following it until you run out of noodles. Unfortunately for Trader Joe’s, I only had 3.5 out of five needed layers of pasta, so my pasta layering process got abruptly cut short, so I had to improvise my top layer.

But when it came out of the oven, I was pretty satisfied: forty-five minutes in the oven yielded an evenly browned and bubbly top, with a lid that was very crunchy and satisfying. A small piece really left me feeling satisfied with my efforts from Friday as well as today. It also confirmed something else I’ve always thought: every time I’ve had lasagne that was not homemade, I’ve just never been as happy with it. The meat sauce is rarely as nuanced and flavorful as the one I’ve made, and likely the quality of the meat to the cheese is never as high. Most of them rely too heavily on too much shredded mozzarella to mask anything that the sauce is lacking. So it always feels like a deflating experience ordering it out. Lasagne is really one of those things that I think needs to be homemade, loved, and eaten at home. My next idea is to make spinach lasagne with four cheeses, which I just got an email about from Food & Wine. It’s a doozy in other ways in that it uses four different cheeses and certainly is not for anyone who is watching their waistline, but I still think it’s worth an occasional indulgence… especially since before this, the last time I made a lasagne was when we still lived on the east side — that was over 7 years ago!!

Another bonus: I doubled the bolognese recipe, so I have a full recipe of bolognese meat sauce in my freezer, frozen in large 1/2-C cubes! So less work and more enjoyment in the future await. In that sense, the inner wrist bruising from the sauce burn is more worth it given it was an investment also in future meals and not just this week’s.

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