The main ingredients in a classic Italian lasagna recipe include meat sauce, bechamel sauce, pasta sheets, cheese, miscellaneous vegetables, and seasonings such as salt and pepper. Everything is layered together, topped with cheese and baked until the dish is golden and bubbly.
The meat sauce is usually comprised of olive oil, butter, onion, garlic, ground beef, celery, carrot and tomatoes. Other ground meats may be used instead of or in addition to ground beef, like ground chicken or turkey. Some versions also incorporate small amounts of pancetta, bacon or liver. Wine and bay leaves may be used to impart extra flavor.
The bechamel sauce is typically made with butter, flour and milk. It is sometimes spiced with nutmeg. The types of cheese commonly found in lasagna recipes include ricotta, mozzarella or Parmesan, and vegetables such as spinach, zucchini and mushrooms can also be added to lasagna for texture.
A lasagna is assembled by placing the bechamel sauce, pasta sheets, cheese, vegetables and meat sauce in alternating layers in a baking dish. The mixture is cooked in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. It is then allowed to rest for around 15 minutes before being sliced and served.
Lasagna originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. There are many variations of lasagna throughout Italy, and the ingredients vary depending on the area. For example, in Liguria, pesto is used instead of a tomato-based meat sauce.