Instead, there is a melt-in-your-mouth creamy layer that I could never get enough of, and could never quite identify. Until now! Thanks to my new friend, Roberta!
"What IS this creamy stuff?" I asked her, and "Wait, do I taste cinnamon in here?!"
So we did it together start to finish, 5:30-8PM. And she said this was faster than her mother's lasagna. :)
|Grated carrots, onion, and just a little bit of fresh garlic. Cooked in Olive Oil. (I grated all those by hand, thank you very much.)|
Next, the besciamella (the amazing, creamy, non-ricotta stuff that just makes this perfetto!)
|Melt a stick of butter on low.|
|Then she added 2 heaping serving spoons of flour to make a roux. I said, "Ohh we're making gravy!"|
|Nice and smooth. Key to this sauce, Roberta said, is to never let it boil, and never let it stick to the bottom. We took turns slowly stirring this guy for maybe another half hour.|
Roberta said, "Yes I think it is relaxing after a long day to come home and cook."
I remarked how it is not always that way, especially when trying to get something on the table quickly, and how if I were making this in America, I would've already been pushing buttons on my electronic gadgets. Roberta commented how that would not be as satisfying at the end. She is right. I appreciated those carrots more since I grated them myself.
We both agreed that cooking can be an art.
|While stirring, she added a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. She said her mom would grate fresh from a stick, but we were content with that from a spice jar. ;)|
|We diced two balls of mozzarella cheese--the real kind, with milky water in the package. I told her how when I made lasagna in America, that I bought a firm mozzarella that was pre-grated. She made a skeptical face at that idea.|
[*Note about draining grease: I remember making an authentic ragu in America, using American beef, and it was excessively greasy. It had a thick layer of congealed grease on the top when it cooled. This ragu doesn't do that. I've noticed while cooking in Italy that the beef is much leaner. Sometimes I even have to add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan just to keep it from sticking. So my advice for my friends in America is to drain it a little before adding the tomatoes and wine, but definitely don't rinse because you remove the flavor of the carrots and onion. The only exception to this might be an extra-lean grass fed American beef.]
Now the layering! Choose your favorite box lasagna noodle. (Restaurants in Bologna typically serve a green noodle lasagna, which contains spinach in the dough. Many noodles are homemade here, but box noodles are just as common, and with a lot of variety.) Each one will have slightly different instructions, so follow the directions on the box.
|Repeat layers 3 or 4 times, with the top layer being only ragu, besciamella, and Parmesan. Bake according to pasta's instructions.|
|Roberta and her (now our!) lasagna!|
|Buon appetito! 5 stars from all 5 Armentrouts!|
|Roberta is a concert clarinetist, and demonstrated her instruments for us after dinner!|
|She let the kids gently feel the weight and the buttons. I think Roberta will make an excellent teacher one day.|
Italy--where cooking is an art of relaxation, satisfaction, and creamy deliciousness!