Okay guys I am embarrassed to admit that this was the first real Italian lasagna that I have ever ate. A few months back when I posted my American style lasagna recipe an Italian lady told me how different it actually was from the Italian version and I was instantly interested. Americans load all pastas down with tons of cheese and Italians don’t. That pretty much sums up the differences right there. The Italian lasagna is also much cheaper to make than our version.
This style is actually so similar to the Arabic casseroles that you will find here in Saudi. They layer meat and vegetables in the same way and also add Bechamel on top. I would love to know the history behind all of that, but I am sure that it was from the Turkish who adapted it from Italy. Just guessing here, but it sounds plausible to me. This is a pretty straight forward and simple recipe, but a few tips that you need to know is that you need to whisk your Bechamel like crazy so that you do not have lumps.
You have to use fresh Parmesan cheese. I cannot even believe that people use the fake stuff that is made out of powdered milk. I use lamb mostly instead of beef because it tastes so much better and has low fat. It has so little fat in it that you do not even have to drain, but if you do use beef in its place then please do drain after the meat cooks. This is my new favorite lasagna recipe and while I still do love my American version this one is amazing.
1 pound ground lamb
1 (8 ounce) tomato sauce
1 (400 grams) can diced tomatoes
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small white onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package instant lasagna noodles
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cups all purpose flour
1. In a 4-quart saucepan on medium heat add butter. Allow to melt, then add flour and whisk vigorously. Carefully add milk and continue whisking. Add salt and pepper and continue whisking for the next 5 minutes on low heat, whisking at times.
2. In a saute pan on medium heat, add onions, garlic and lamb. Add carrots and allow to cook until meat is thoroughly cooked. Drain fat from meat if needed. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Mix and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Meanwhile, in an 8×13 inch baking pan, add a ladle of Bechamel sauce to make sure the bottom of the pan is covered. Add a layer of noodles, meat sauce, Parmesan cheese, then ladles more Bechamel sauce all over the top. Repeat this step one more time ending with a layer of noodles on top. Add Bechamel sauce all over the top, then more Parmesan cheese. Add diced butter on top, then cover with foil. Place the dish on a baking sheet and allow to bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake a remaining 10 minutes.
Yields: 4 servings