Cole Cooks: Lasagna Bolognese and Béchamel Sauce

Lasagna Bolognese


Lasagna is one of those dishes that has many different variations.  Fun Diego Family has at least four versions of Lasagna we make.  The best lasagna I have ever had was in Italy and it combined bolognese and béchamel Sauce.  I have found several recipes, for this type of lasagna, my favorite being in our beloved Pasta Tecnica book we have discussed several times.  This is my version of Lasagna Bolognese and Béchamel Sauce.

Lasagna Bolognese and Béchamel Sauce

This is my version of the best lasagna I have ever had. It is a Lasagna Bolognese and Béchamel Sauce that originates from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 7 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8
Author David Cole


  • One-half batch Bolognese Sauce recipe below
  • Homemade or packaged lasagna noodles 1 pound, homemade recipe below
  • Béchamel Sauce recipe below
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano optional
  • 1 cup Mozzarella optional


  1. Make Bolognese Sauce following recipe below. Save half for lasagna and use the other half over noodles or freeze for a later date.
  2. If using homemade noodles, make them following the recipe below.
  3. Béchamel Sauce following the recipe below.
  4. Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 13 by 9 baking dish and assemble lasagna as follows.
  5. Add a layer of bolognese sauce.
  6. Add a layer of pasta noodles
  7. Add a layer of Béchamel Sauce
  8. Add a layer of pasta noodles
  9. Add a layer of bolognese sauce.
  10. Add a layer of pasta noodles
  11. Add a layer of Béchamel Sauce
  12. Add a layer of pasta noodles
  13. Add a layer of bolognese sauce.
  14. Top with Cheese
  15. NOTE: at this point you can freeze the lasagna to cook at a later date
  16. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes
  17. Remove aluminum foil and cook another 15 minutes
  18. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Recipe Notes

The bolognese sauce can be made a day ahead. The assembled, unbaked lasagna can be frozen and cooked the day you serve.  You can also substitute your favorite meat sauce for the bolognese.

Bolognese Sauce Recipe

The history of lasagna may go back to Greek times. Some say the Romans acquired Lasagna when they conquered Greece.  The British even claim that they originated lasagna in the 1300s in the court of King Richard II.  Of course, these early versions did not have the tomatoes most people now associate with lasagna.  Tomatoes were an introduction from the New World, post 1492.

The United States version of lasagna is generally heavy on tomatoes, uses a basic ground beef meat sauce and is generally fairly runny.  In contrast, the Italian version I am going after is fairly dry and uses my bolognese sauce which is a time-consuming process.  Ideally this would use homemade lasagna noodles run through the thinnest setting.  However, I admit to using packaged noodles when time pressed.

In 2000, the Washington Post ran a great article on the subject entitled “The Americanization Of Lasagna: We Haven’t Always Been Kind to This Great Italian Classic.”  This article says”

“Sophisticated northern Italians consider the lasagna of Emilia-Romagna the true national standard-bearer, with its meaty Bolognese sauce and creamy béchamel mingling between translucent pasta layers.”

We had this lasagna in Tuscany, right by the border of Emilia-Romagna and I am a definite convert.  The only place I have been served this outside Italy was in, all places, Mexico, at the Breathless Resort’s Italian restaurant in Puerto Morales.

This is a fairly labor-intensive dish.  What I have learned to do is cook a large patch of bolognese sauce and serve it with thick noodles (not spaghetti).  I save half of the sauce for use in the lasagna I make the next day.  Often, we freeze the lasagna to eat at a later date.

As we discussed in this post, true bolognese has its own history and is fairly time-consuming to make.  Making your own pasta noodles is by far the best way to go.  In Italy, the lasagna we had used green spinach noodles.  I have done that, but it can be fairly tricky and in my opinion does not add that much to the overall flavor.  The main thing is to get the noodles as thin as possible.

The true Italian version does not use cheese or, if it does, uses Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I like cheese, so I added Mozzarella on the top.  The other main ingredient is the béchamel sauce.  This is a simple blend of butter, milk and flour.  The main issue is the ratio of each ingredient.

For my béchamel I have settled on a ratio of 5 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons flour and 2 cups milk.  Some recipes call for substantially more milk, but I find that makes the sauce too runny.  I also add salt and nutmeg.

This is a great dish for a large group as it yields 8 servings.  As mentioned, this is a dish that can be prepared ahead and frozen, unbaked.  The day you bake it, simply put in the refrigerator first thing in the morning so it partially thaws.  Bake as normal, adding extra time as needed to cook fully.

For a complete guide to Bolognese Sauce see this article.  For a pictorial guide to making the Bolognese Sauce go here.  For a pictorial guide to making Béchamel Sauce go here.


Pasta for Lasagna

This is a guide to making homemade pasta for use in our Lasagna Bolognese and Béchamel Sauce recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author David Cole


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups unbleached flour


  1. Add eggs and flour to food processor and run until the dough forms a ball.
  2. If the dough does not form a ball add water one tablespoon at a time. Process for 30 seconds.
  3. If the dough sticks to the bowl add more flour one tablespoon at a time. Process for 30 seconds.
  4. If you are using a pasta machine cut the dough in half. Roll the dough through the widest setting on the machine. Fold dough into thirds and run through machine again. Do this 6 more times. If dough gets sticky dust with flour.
  5. Decrease the width setting on the machine and roll pasta sheet through. Repeat this procedure, decreasing the width setting one notch at a time.
  6. When dough has gone through thinnest setting cutting into lasagna length slices.

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