Lasagna: The world’s perfect food.
~ Garfield (aka Jim Davis)
In 2015, I was reading the New York Times when an article caught my eye. It talked about how the residents of Via Fondazza had formed “Social Street.” Via Fondazza intersects with Via Santo Stefano about 50 feet from my apartment. Long story short, I contacted Federico Bastiani, the founder of Social Street, and two months later, I met him and his wife, Laurell Boyers-Bastiani, when I was in Bologna.
I wrote an article about Social Street for BLVDS Magazine after I met them, and we kept in touch. Even though they are closer to my son’s age than mine, we have become friends. They kindly ask me to dinner when I am in Bologna, and I enjoy spending time with them. (Side note: Laurell had to go to the South African Embassy in Milan on the day I went to the Starbucks there, and we just happened to be on the same train. We ended up spending a few hours together after we finished our respective work.) For some reason, though, I always forget to take out my camera when I am with them.
They invited me for lunch on Sunday, and I made sure I remembered to take photos. Fede likes to cook, and he told me he was making a special lasagne for me. Lasagna is one of my favorite meals, although I make it like my grandmother made it. Her version, and the one you are most apt to find in the US, consists of a meat sauce, ricotta, and provolone (or mozarella) divided among the layers. The Bolognese version consists of a thick meat sauce, béchamel sauce, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. (Note: Lasagna is a singular sheet of pasta, while lasagne refers to many sheets.)
Before I give you the recipe, I want to tell you that I was amazed at how delicate the sauce was compared to the Bolognese sauces I have made and had elsewhere. Fede and Laurell told me that the big difference was that they used milk instead of wine in the sauce. Wine tends to spice up the sauce, but milk adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is hard to describe. Fede’s lasagne was delicious. I asked him if I could share, and he sent me his recipe. I hope you like it.
Also, before I forget, Laurell made a wonderful salad of roasted pumpkin, mixed nuts, rocket (arugula) and feta cheese. I’ve been craving it all week.
1 red onion
1.5 pounds of ground beef
1 quart béchamel sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup (more or less) of tomato sauce
1 cup of milk
Fry the onion.
When it is browned, add the meat and brown it.
Then add the tomato paste and a little tomato sauce.
Then add a glass of milk and cook a couple of hours at least.
Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel* and pre-cook the pasta.
*In Italy, you can go to the store and buy pre-made béchamel sauce. I haven’t really seen it in the States, so here’s a link to a quick and easy recipe. (Note: Do NOT add the cheese. That’s for cheese sauce.)
To prepare the lasagne, put some bechamel on the bottom of the pan. Put a layer of pasta, some of the meat sauce, some béchamel, and some Parmigiano. Repeat. Bake until the pasta is soft and the cheese has melted.
Thank you, Fede and Laurell (and Matteo and Noah) for your friendship….and for the wonderful meals.