A plate full of piping hot lasagna is the ultimate comfort food in co-founder David Caldana's house. His mother shared this lovely recipe with us, one that has been passed down in the family for years. It's a meal that requires a long, enjoyable afternoon of cooking. To simplify, she lays out the three stages (sauce, béchamel, assembly), and assures us the recipe is very forgiving (except for the spices—make sure to not add too much of the cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon).

Serves 8-10 (one 34 x 25cm lasagna or deep roasting dish)

Ingredients

Meat Sauce:
125ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 onions, diced
250g ground veal
250g ground pork
500g ground beef (not extra lean)
1 1/2 chicken stock cubes
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, shredded
800g tinned Italian tomatoes (whole)
400g tomato passata
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Béchamel:
3 tbsp salted butter
5-6 tbsp plain flour
1L skimmed milk (or 1% milk)
Assembling the Lasagna:
400g grated fontina cheese (or low-moisture mozzarella)
250g grated parmesan
Fresh pasta sheets (enough to make 4 layers)

Method

Step 1: Make the Meat Sauce
  1. Place oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, over medium heat, and add the garlic. Heat gently for two minutes. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes
  2. Add the veal, pork and beef and crumble the stock cube over the meat. Allow it all to brown slowly over medium heat. There should be some clear oil visible at the bottom of the pan. If there is too much, remove with a spoon and discard 
  3. Add the celery and carrot and continue cooking for 5 minutes over medium heat. Meanwhile, prepare the tinned tomatoes by breaking them roughly in the can, using your hands, a knife, or scissors, so they don't burst in the pan
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes and passata. Stir with the rest of the ingredients. Add spices and season further with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce cook for an hour over medium heat. Stir occasionally to break up any tomatoes and ensure the sauce is smooth. Season further with salt and pepper if needed. When finished, use in the recipe or, even better, make this sauce a day in advance, as the 24-hour rest intensifies its flavour
Step 2: Make the Béchamel
  1. First things first: Be sure to make the sauce right before you assemble the lasagna
  2. Melt the butter slowly over low heat. Add the flour gradually to make a smooth paste, whisking as you go
  3. Add milk gradually, bit by bit, stirring over medium heat until it thickens, using a whisk to remove any lumps. It should be thick but easily pourable. If it is too thick, raise the heat to medium and add more milk
  4. Add 3/4 of the béchamel sauce to the meat sauce and save the rest for the top of the lasagne
Step 3: Assemble
  1. Pour a little of the meat sauce into the bottom of a 34 x 25cm lasagne dish (this will help prevent the lasagne sticking to the bottom)
  2. Fully cover the sauce with one layer of the rolled pasta, then add another layer of the sauce and sprinkle with both of the grated cheeses
  3. Repeat until you’ve reached the fourth layer of pasta. Cover this with the sauce, and drizzle the remaining béchamel sauce over the top, while sprinkling on a final layer of grated cheese
  4. If you’re cooking the lasagna immediately, then cover with foil and bake at 220°C/200°C fan for 45-50 minutes (using fresh pasta). Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to allow the top layer to brown. You’ll know it’s properly cooked when your fork passes easily through the lasagne and it's heated all the way through
  5. If you would rather cook it the next day, bake it for around half an hour, allow to cool and place in the fridge. Remove from the fridge an hour before baking and then bake at 220°C/200°C fan for around 30 minutes

BK Tips

  • If you can't find veal mince, substitute with 125g beef mince and 125g pork mince

  • You can try different types of Italian cheese as well, but they should be low-moisture, such as Mozzarella Cucina

  • You can freeze the lasagne before cooking, provided you're using a freezer-safe dish. Cover with 2 layers of foil and allow to defrost all day in the fridge before cooking as normal

  • Dried lasagne sheets can be used in place of fresh pasta—just follow the cooking instructions on the packet, then add an extra 10 minutes of cooking time in the oven