This white lasagna is a northern Italian staple! Perfect for feeding a group with minimal effort, it’ll fill you up and keep you warm on a cold wet day!
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White lasagna is Italian comfort food. It’s cheese and pasta and ham – what’s not to love??? And when it’s been a gross day outside and you need something that’ll warm you up from the inside, this is the perfect thing.
Another great thing about this meal is that it freezes beautifully. After you bake it, let it cool and then cut into portions. Wrap each individually and then freeze! Easy meal when you don’t want to cook.
This bad boy is RICH. Serve it with a big salad: something fresh, green, and with a bit of acid for some approximation of balance.
While deep in quarantine, a friend organized an online cooking class with a local woman. She normally offers them in person and I’d been wanting to take one ever since we arrived, but somehow hadn’t made the time! Enter: virtual cooking class.
(Side note: Teresa is a GEM and I highly recommend taking classes with her, either in person or online. I was a little hesitant to take them during the pandemic: will a cooking class translate well to virtual? But it was really fun and Teresa made it easy to follow along!)
She taught us this white lasagna, so all credit goes to her. I’ve tweaked, but it’s mostly her recipe. Like most Italian recipes, it only takes a few simple ingredients to create magic.
I’ve noticed that when making Italian recipes, I have to make some adjustments when sharing them with y’all! But only because I know its no fun to get what’s supposed to be a basic recipe that needs 15 specialty ingredients not found at your local grocery store. I try to list the more universal ingredient in the recipe itself, and explain the Italian-est version here.
First up, the ham. We use prosciutto cotto in this recipe. It’s not smoked the way you might normally think of prosciutto. It tastes and looks just like ham. I would use any high-quality ham at the deli counter but maybe go easy on the added flavors. Ask them to slice it fairly thin but not shaved.
Italians almost always use fresh pasta for these dishes. However, I’ve tested with Italian versions of dried lasagna noodles and it worked with the same cooking time. I would read the box of your pasta and see what time and temperature it suggests, and adjust the recipe accordingly. Also, don’t forget to take note if it tells you to pre-boil them first! The photographed version here used dried pasta that didn’t need pre-boiling.
Another adjustment: we used fresh balls of mozzarella here, but you can sub in whatever type of mozzarella you normally buy!
For the bechamel sauce (besciamella)
- 7 Tbsp butter (100 g) unsalted
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 4 cups milk whole
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 dashes white pepper
For the lasagna
- 10 oz sliced ham (280 g) or prosciutto cotto
- 10 oz lasagna noodles (280 g)
- 9 oz mozzarella (255 g)
- 2 oz parmesan (50 g)
- First, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
For the bechamel sauce:
- Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a medium pot. When it's frothy, add the flour.
- Stir until thickened, then add the cream. Stir gently but continuously until it's thickened, between 5-10 minutes. Don't turn the heat too high so it doesn't burn the bottom of the pan.
- When it's beginning to thicken, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
For the lasagna:
- Build your lasagna: cover the bottom of a dish with a layer of bechamel.
- Add a layer of lasagna noodles, bechamel, mozzarella, and ham. Repeat 4-5 times.
- To finish it, add another layer of mozzarella, then top with bechamel and parmesan.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then switch the oven to broil and cook 5-8 minutes more. When the top looks browned and bubbly, it's done!
This is the ultimate comfort food to feed the people you love!
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