Lasagna with Hidden Veggie Bolognese

A while back, I ran across this recipe for Spinach Lasagna with Bolognese Sauce on Pinterest and it sounded amazing! I made it once for my family using boxed lasagna noodles and it was really delicious. Someday I’d like to make the spinach pasta from scratch, like she’s done in the original post; maybe it could be a fun thing to make with my son. I know that fresh-made pasta brings any dish up to a whole other level of wow. But, it can be time consuming!

Since that first attempt at making this lasagna, I have made a few adjustments, including adding some extra vegetables for my family. My son isn’t a fan of many vegetables, so it’s a challenge to get them into his diet one way or another. So long as I have these veggies very finely diced, he doesn’t notice them and gobbles this up.

I also discovered no-cook lasagna noodles from Barilla. They save me a decent amount of time because I don’t have to boil the lasagna noodles, too.

If you want to try this lasagna with a bolognese sauce that’s completely vegetarian, check out Giada’s Vegetarian Bolognese Rigatoni made with three different kinds of mushrooms. It can totally work with this lasagna.

It may take a bit of prep time, but it’s worth it. When I’m making this I usually make it all during nap time and just pop it in the oven an hour or so before dinner time. Or I’ll make it one afternoon, assemble it, and stick it in the freezer to bake on another night.

This recipe makes lasagna for one 8×8 baking dish. Once in a while I end up with some leftover bolognese sauce that I can keep in the fridge to add to pasta as leftovers.

Ingredients for the Bolognese:

  • 1 lb ground beef (2/3lb ground beef and 1/3lb Italian sausage is good too)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced (a yellow onion is what I had this time, but I prefer a red onion)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 3/4 cup crimini or white mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup red wine (I like Cabernet Sauvignon for this)
  • one 15oz can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (whatever you have)
  • 2 cups of beef broth or chicken broth (I usually use what I have already)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

*You can adjust the vegetables and their proportions with whatever you have or prefer… finely diced squash, spinach, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, different kinds of mushrooms, etc. Whatever you have a hankering for.

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk (whole milk is preferred, but skim will work)
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Other ingredients:

  • 1 box no-cook lasagna noodles (This recipe uses half a box)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh, grated parmesan cheese

To make the bolognese sauce:

In a large, heavy pot brown the meat. Remove from the pot and set aside.

If there isn’t much fat left in the pot after browning the meat, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrots, onion, celery and mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until the onions begin to get translucent and the carrots soften. 

NOTE: The mushrooms are missing from these photos because I ran out and my husband was picking some up. I added them to the sauce while it was simmering and they tasted great. But I usually sauté them with the rest of the veggies.

Add the oregano and basil along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. 

Add the wine and cook for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. Then add the tomato sauce and the cooked meat.

Add the broth, gently mix and simmer, uncovered, for about one hour until the liquid in the sauce is greatly reduced. If you don’t have an hour, then you can reduce the amount of beef or chicken stock you add and cook for less time. I have done one cup broth and reduced the sauce for about 35 minutes when I was short on time.

Taste the sauce and add some sugar and salt as needed to taste. I usually add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to cut the acidity.

Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced, but not completely evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit. You can cover it and place in the fridge overnight if you’re cooking your lasagna another day.

To make the Béchamel Sauce:  (I usually do this while the bolognese is simmering)

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the flour and cook, gently stirring with a whisk, for a few minutes.

Very slowly add the milk and chicken broth, constantly whisking, until all of the liquid is added.

Add the grated nutmeg and black pepper. Whisk continuously and bring to a boil over medium heat for several minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the Lasagna:

Preheat your oven to 375° F.

Place a thin layer of béchamel sauce in the bottom of your 8×8 baking pan. Add one layer of pasta. Add a layer of béchamel sauce on the pasta and then a layer of bolognese sauce.

Repeat until you have four layers of pasta.

On the last layer, pour the last of the béchamel sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375° F for 40 minutes. If you find your cheese starting to brown right away, then I’d recommend covering it, very loosely, with aluminum foil to prevent it from burning before the lasagna is done.

Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13×9 baking dish too.

For my little family of three, this is perfect for dinner and we have leftovers for lunch the next day. I serve it with a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and some crusty bread with olive oil for dipping or garlic bread. In the summer, when we have homegrown tomatoes, we’ll often do a Caprese salad instead.

Buon appetito!

 

Lasagna with Hidden Veggie Bolognese

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Ingredients for the Bolognese
1 lb ground beef (2/3lb ground beef and 1/3lb Italian sausage is good too)
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
1 medium red onion, finely diced (a yellow onion works too)
3/4 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cup crimini or white mushrooms, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup red wine (I like Cabernet Sauvignon for this)
one 15oz can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (whatever you have)
2 cups of beef broth or chicken broth (I usually use what I have already)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 to 1 tablespoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste
*You can adjust the vegetables and their proportions with whatever you have or prefer… finely diced squash, spinach, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, different kinds of mushrooms, etc.

For the Béchamel Sauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (whole milk is preferred, but skim will work)
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
a few grinds of black pepper

Other ingredients
1 box no-cook lasagna noodles (Barilla is my fav, this recipe ends up using half a box)
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh, grated parmesan cheese

Make the bolognese sauce
In a large, heavy pot brown the meat. Remove from the pot and set aside.
If there wasn’t much fast left in the pot after browning the meat, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the carrots, onion and celery and cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until the onions begin to get translucent and the carrots soften.
Add the oregano and basil along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and cook for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. Then add the tomato sauce and the cooked meat.
Add the broth and simmer, uncovered, for about one hour until the liquid in the sauce is greatly reduced. If you don’t have an hour, then you can reduce the amount of beef or chicken stock you add and cook for less time. I have done one cup and reduced the sauce for about 35 minutes before.
Taste the sauce and add some sugar and salt as needed to taste. I usually add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to cut the acidity.
Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced down but not completely evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit. You can cover it and place in the fridge overnight if you’re cooking your lasagna another day.

Make the Béchamel Sauce
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the flour and cook, gently stirring with a whisk, for a couple of minutes.
Slowly add the milk and chicken broth, constantly whisking, until all of the liquid is added.
Add the grated nutmeg and black pepper. Whisk continuously and bring to a boil over medium heat for several minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the Lasagna
Preheat your oven to 375° F.
Place a thin layer of béchamel sauce in the bottom of your 8×8 baking pan. Add one layer of pasta. Add a layer of béchamel sauce on the pasta and then a layer of bolognese sauce.
Repeat until you have four layers of pasta.
On the last layer, pour the last of the béchamel sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake at 375° F for 40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and the cheese is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes
You can double this recipe and bake it in a 13×9 baking dish.
For my little family of three, this is perfect for dinner and we have leftovers for lunch the next day. I serve it with a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and some crusty bread with olive oil for dipping or garlic bread. In the summer when we have homegrown tomatoes, we’ll often do a Caprese salad instead.

Mama Say What?! http://www.mamasaywhat.com/

3 Responses to Lasagna with Hidden Veggie Bolognese

  1. Looks soooo good!!! I’m going to pick up the ingredients to make this next time I go grocery shopping!!!

  2. Pingback: Hidden Veggie Recipes Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

  3. Pingback: Snapshots - Episode 8: Super Sauce Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

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