Two Jewish Girls Cook Up Some Real Italian

finished product

Two Jewish Girls Cook Italian


I have a few lasagnas that I like but the one that I recently made with my BFF, Susan, was truly wonderful.  The original recipe came from Saveur and we mostly followed it as is except for a few small tweaks. It is not for the meek–it has a lot of moving parts and is an effort but worth every step of the way. First, you have to make the Bolognese (meat) sauce, and then a Bechamel and then assemble the lasagne itself. The recipe calls for spinach noodles but that option was out because we couldn’t find spinach noodles in the valley and there was no way we were making them from scratch. We used Barilla noodles, which worked out perfectly.  I have already posted my other Bolognese but this one is also  wonderful and includes prosciutto, chopped chicken livers, and milk. This recipe drums up a pretty nice shopping list. Susan and I shopped on Wednesday, cooked the Bolognese on Thursday, and assembled the lasagne on Friday. Our plan is to  cook it partially and refrigerate. We’ll then take it out of the fridge before going to a movie, and heat it back up when we get back to the house. Susan and I get along quite well in the kitchen–we don’t get in each other’s way and it is a totally fun way to spend time together doing something we both love. We served this lasagne with an appetizer of shrimp cocktail (complements of Joel) and a green salad.

I will start this recipe with the Ragu a la Bolognese sauce. By the way, the movie was wonderful, as was the entire evening.

Happy, healthy new year to all.

Bolognese Sauce


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced (we sliced first and then used food processor)

1 rib celery, minced (we sliced first and then used food processor)

1/2 medium carrot, peeled and  minced (we sliced first and then used food processor)

2 – 3 slices (3 oz.) prosciutto, chopped (we bought it pre-chopped)

2 – 3 chicken livers, finely chopped (available in the chicken section of most supermarkets in a container)

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck meat

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine (I recently found out you can buy small, inexpensive bottles, which are good to cook with)

1 cup milk (use whole milk)

1 cup beef or chicken broth

1 28 oz. can pureed italian plum tomatoes (if you can’t find pureed, just put whole ones in food processor)


Heat oil in a large, deep, heavy pot (Le Creuset is perfect) over medium high heat. Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, but not browned (5 minutes or so.) Add celery and carrot and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add prosciutto and chicken livers and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until meat is just cooked and still a little pink. Crumble ground chuck into pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. Break up chuck, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon, until meat is just cooked and still a little pink, about 5 – 8 more minutes.

Stir in wine and cook until the liquid more or less evaporates. (This took us a while. The recipe says 3 minutes, but it took us more like 10 (maybe because of the altitude?) Next, heat up milk in a small saucepan (do not boil , just heat until it’s hot.) Reduce heat  on sauce to medium and add hot milk, stirring occasionally, until the milk reduces. (We ended up cooking it for about 15  minutes.) In a separate saucepan, heat the tomatoes and broth until hot and then add to the meat mixture. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bechamel Sauce: (called “Balsamella” in Italy)

Ingredients (yields 2 cups Bechamel, which is exactly what you’ll need):

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups hot milk

4 tablespoons sifted flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes (do not allow the mixture to brown.) Gradually add in the 2 cups of hot milk, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir constantly until sauce is as thick as heavy cream, about 15 minutes.



2 tablespoons olive oil (to grease pan)

1 box of Lasagne noodles (we didn’t use the pre cooked ones, I wouldn’t in this recipe)

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 recipe for Bolognese (above)

1 recipe for Bechamel sauce (above)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 12 baking pan and set aside.

Cook Lasagne noodles according to directions on box (don’t overcook.) We laid the noodles out to dry. You don’t want them moist in pan. (Here in Colorado, they dried in about 2 minutes.)

Line the bottom of prepared baking pan with a layer of pasta (we used 3 sheets on the bottom, which was perfect.) Spread evenly with 1 cup of meat sauce, and sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese. Add another layer of noodles,  evenly spread 1 cup of bechamel sauce on noodles, then sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese. Repeat these layers (with the sprinkle of cheese on top of each layer) until you have 3 layers of meat sauce and 2 of bechamel, ending with the meat sauce on top. Reserve any extra meat sauce to put on top or for another time. There should be no remaining Bechamel sauce.

Bake in the top third of oven for 10 minutes. Then, turn oven up to 500 degrees and cook until lasagne is bubbling around the edges and browned on top, 5 – 7 minutes longer. Do not overcook. Allow lasagne to rest for 8 – 10 minutes before serving.

One response to “Two Jewish Girls Cook Up Some Real Italian

  1. Pasta Bolognese is great for kids! It’s a meaty version of mac and cheese!

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