12 sheets dried or fresh lasagne
1 recipe classic ragu bolognese
6 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
5 tbsp (75g) butter
4 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups (750ml) milk
salt, black pepper, nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Cook pasta, 3 sheets at a time, in a large pot of boiling, salted water for half the recommended time, or until pasta is pliable but slightly hard at the center, about 4 minutes for dried pasta, 1 minute for fresh pasta. Drain and place sheets in a single layer on dish towels. For bechamel, melt butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook until foaming, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour in milk gradually, whisking constantly. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. In a buttered 13in x 9in x 3in (33cm x 23cm x 7.5cm) oven-proof dish, spread a thin layer of the bechamel. Lay 3 sheets pasta, over the bechamel. Spread a quarter of the ragu over the pasta. Spread a quarter of the bechamel over the ragu, and sprinkle with a quarter of the parmesan. Starting with another layer of 3 pasta sheets, repeat layers. Repeat layers again to finish, ending with parmesan. Bake in oven until golden and bubbling, 30 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Egg lasagne, green or yellow, fresh when possible.
Assemble lasagne and leave to cool completely. Cover, unbaked, and refrigerate up to 1 day in advance. Alternatively freeze, unbaked, up to 3 weeks in advance. Defrost overnight in refrigerator. Cook in preheated 400°F (200°C) oven for 30 minutes.
Make bechamel up to 2 days in advance. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the surface to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate. Before using, beat to make it easy to spread. If making with cold bechamel, be sure to have ragu and pasta also cold.
I don't recommend no-cook lasagne, but if it is all you can find at the store, always treat it as regular dried lasagne and pre-cook until just pliable, about 30 seconds. Alternatively, follow the recipe on the packet, which will make proper allowances for the amount of liquid absorbed by the lasagne during baking.
CLASSIC ITALIAN-AMERICAN LASAGNE
Omit bechamel. Use 8 oz (250g) ricotta, crumbled, and 8 oz (25Og) finely sliced mozzarella in place of bechamel. Arrange in layers as directed, substituting ricotta and mozzarella mixture for bechamel. Bake as directed.