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  • Writer's pictureBrianna Miller

Homemade Lasagne: The Italian Pilgrimage

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

Something you should know about me, I'm Italian.

Translation: I was raised in a household where loud voices, red sauced-stained clothing, and second (and third) helpings were an everyday staple.

Another bonus of growing up Italian, my mom can cook. Like... really cook. For my Italian class project in high school, I was tasked with sharing a household recipe with the class and I made stuffed shells with my mom. By "made" I mean, my mom made pretty much everything and waved me off when I attempted to step into the kitchen to help.

All my life, my mom has expressed her love in cooking. Her love language is food and telling her her cooking is amazing is pretty much the same as telling her you love her.

So when I was attempted to make homemade lasagne (yes, "lasagne" is the correct spelling. Don't @ me), to say I was intimidated would be an understatement.

Making lasagne (from SCRATCH) is like the Italian pilgrimage. All Italians know how complicated it is to accomplish and know it is their duty to attempt it one day.

I decided that day was Christmas Eve. It's quarantine. I've made pasta (once) and it wasn't that bad. How hard could it be?

The thing is, it's not really that hard to make lasagne. However, it takes time and patience. Two things I have an abundance of these days.

I started the day before Christmas Eve because every good Italian knows that the best sauce is the sauce that sits so long on the stove that your house smells like a restaurant in North Beach.

I used Half Baked Harvest's recipe because, well, she's pretty much an angel sent down to us from the Food Gods. To use a food blogger's recipe for something like this takes an enormous amount of trust. And I trust her. She's the kind of person you want to raid your fridge and make you something amazing.

As the sauce simmered on my stove, I watched the original Miracle on 34th Street for the first time. A bit of an unpopular opinion here, but I thought it was more entertaining than White Christmas-- which is another movie I saw for the first time this year. To answer the question you're probably asking yourself: no, I'm not some kind of Christmas-hating MONSTER. I was just raised in more of a It's a Wonderful Life / Home Alone / The Santa Clause family. So those are my go-tos. Christmas movies are really more about nostalgia than plot and character development, am I right?

Anyways, I let the sauce simmer for about 3-4 hours. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, such as using all italian chicken sausage vs. just 3/4 lbs. I also used tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes because I love how tomato puree thickens once the lasagne is prepared.

The next day, I started on the bechamel -- or besciamella in Italian -- and the noodles. Bechamel is just a fancy-shmancy word for cheese sauce heaven. And it helps keep the lasagne moist and breaks up the acidity in the tomato sauce. So if you're thinking of skipping this step, you should really start reflecting on your life choices.

The noodles were fairly easy to put together. I feel like people get afraid to attempt pasta making but it's honestly the easiest, thrown-together recipe. Honestly, every recipe I consulted had some form of "and if you need more flour, add more." Which is pretty consistent with the Italian cooking philosophy of not-writing-anything-down-and-going-strictly-by-taste-and-ingredients-I-have-on-hand.

What I like about this recipe:

  1. The tomato sauce doesn't crack. There is honestly no bigger lasagne faux pas than dry, cracked sauce on the noodles. It is disgusting and this recipe ensures your lasagne seals in those juices for daysssss.

  2. Good ratio. There is a healthy ratio of sauce to pasta in this recipe. You're never lacking one or the other in a bite. We won't even talk about the proportion of cheese because, quite frankly, you can never have too much.

  3. It just gets better. The thing about this recipe is you can break it up over the course of a few days. The longer you wait to cook it, the better! And the longer you keep the leftovers, the better it tastes (although good luck with that).

I know ya'll are wondering, what was the verdict?! Did your Italian mother like it? Or did she just start spewing insults in jibberish with an accompaniment of offensive hand gestures?

She. Loved. It. At first, she claimed it would be better with bits of crispy pancetta on top (not a bad suggestion, I might add), but on her second helping she retracted that comment stating it was perfect. So I would say this recipe would please any Italian household :)

So, without further ado, I present the recipe for this lasagne which was originally created by Half Baked Harvest, with small tweaks made by me.


  • 2 1/2 cups Flour

  • 4 Eggs

  • Water


  • 4 ounces pancetta chopped (optional, but adds great flavor)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 half onion diced

  • 2 cloves garlic minced or grated

  • 3/4 pound ground spicy italian chicken sausage or regular spicy italian sausage

  • 1/4 pound ground chicken or ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup milk I use 2%


  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 2 1/2 cups milk I use 2%

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 2 cups provolone cheese shredded, divided

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated, plus more for serving

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded

  • chopped parsley for garnish



  1. 1. To make the dough using a stand mixer. Add the flour and eggs to the bowl and knead the dough, using the dough hook on medium speed until the dough comes together and forms a ball. If your dough seems dry add water 1 teaspoon at a time, being careful not to add too much water. I add 4-6 teaspoons. The dough should be moist, but not too sticky. If you add too much water just add a teaspoon of flour at a time to balance it out. 2. To make the dough by hand. Mix the eggs into the flour in a bowl using your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough with your hands until firm and smooth, about 8 minutes. Shape into a ball. 3. Divide the dough into four balls and place each ball in a sandwich bag.


  1. Make the sauce. In a heavy bottomed pot, cook 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the pancetta over medium heat, stirring, until the pancetta is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring, until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Push the veggies off to the side of the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the center of the pan and crumble in the ground sausage, ground chicken or ground beef. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes and then begin breaking up the meat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, parsley and thyme. Cook another minute or so.

  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 cups water, 1 cup milk, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot. Cover the pot and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2-3 hours. If the sauce seems too watery after 2 hours remove the lid and simmer until thickened. Discard the bay leaf, taste to season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. At this point the sauce can be placed in the fridge overnight or up to 3 days. You may also freeze the sauce.

  3. Quarter the dough and shape into 4 balls. Place each ball in a sandwich bag. Set aside.

  4. Now make the Béchamel Sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk in a steady stream. Add the nutmeg and simmer for 3-5 minutes, whisking until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in provolone and parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

  5. To assemble the lasagne grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. If baking the lasagne right away Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  6. Spoon a little of the red sauce over the bottom of the dish. Grab 1 ball of pasta dough and flatten the dough. Lightly dust the dough with flour, brushing off excess. Set a pasta machine to the widest setting; run the dough through. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, then run it through again, short end first. Run it through 2 more times, dusting with flour if it seems too sticky. Now switch to the 2nd setting and roll all the dough sheets through the machine again. Switch to the 3rd setting and roll the sheets through again. Switch to the 4th setting and roll the sheets through again. Now switch to the 5th setting and roll the sheet through the machine one last time. All machines vary, but I find I like the 5th setting for lasagne sheets. Generally, when you see your hand through the pasta sheet, it's thin enough to cut.

  7. Cut the sheet of dough to fit inside your dish. I can normally get 2 long and wide noodles + enough extra dough on the ends to fully make one layer of pasta cover the bottom of the pan. If this is not the case just form the extra dough into a ball and roll it out again. Fit into the pan where it is needed.

  8. Now spoon about 1/2 of the remaining red sauce over the noodles. Drizzle about 1/3 of the Béchamel on top of that.

  9. Grab another dough ball of pasta and roll it out just as you did above. Layer the pasta over the Béchamel. Now add the remaining red sauce and another 1/3 of the Béchamel. Roll out another ball of dough and layer the pasta. Add the remaining 1 cup of provolone cheese and the mozzarella cheese. Roll out the last ball of dough and layer it over the cheese layer. Pour the remaining Béchamel over the noodles and then sprinkle with a little shredded provolone and mozzarella.

  10. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the the lasagne. At this point the lasagne can be placed in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen.

  11. Bake, covered for 1 hour and then uncovered for 30 minutes more. Let stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing. If your lasagne was cold bake, covered for 15-30 minutes longer.

Original recipe from Half Baked Harvest

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