Part II: Peter’s Lasagna

Okay, now that it’s been established that I’m not in serious trouble for posting my slightly-nicer-than-average, Harry Potter-spoiling brother-in-law’s authentic lasagna recipe, I can go easy on the sucking up. I have made a few changes out of sheer convenience and I’m hoping if he can forgive his own wife for leaving out the Béchamel sauce altogether, he can forgive me for mixing stuff together. It’s all going to the same place, right? RIGHT?

Peter’s Genuine Italian Lasagna

1 recipe pasta and lasagna sauce
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
8 oz. shredded mozzarella, divided
4 oz. shredded fresh Parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 16-oz. tub Ricotta
Béchamel Sauce

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) real butter, NO SUBSTITUTES
1/4. c. white flour
2 1/2 c. milk
Preheat oven to 350.
To prepare Béchamel sauce, melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. When melted, whisk in flour until combined. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Heat until bubbly and thickened to a medium consistency that that looks like this on a spoon:
Now…this is where I start tinkering with his recipe. And it was ONLY tinkering out of an attempt to make things easier and less messy, not that I thought I could make things better. Traditionally, when you make a lasagna with Béchamel sauce, you have a layer of red sauce and then a layer of Béchamel on top. But for me, I could never get the proportions of red sauce to white sauce right. So one day, I just mixed the two. Maybe I’m a blasphemer, but I do it all for the sake of lasagna-eaters everywhere who want to eat it more than once every five years. So if you feel like taking a walk on the wild side, mix the Béchamel in with the red sauce. What are you, chicken? Come on, you know you want to…

After you’ve made (and mixed) the Béchamel, combine 6 oz. mozzarella (about 1 3/4 c.), ricotta, Parmesan, and the beaten egg. At this point, I like to set up a little lasagna-making station:

Using a ladle that measures 1/2 c. (or a 1/2 c. measuring cup), spread 1 c. of sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Add 3 noodles. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture. Spread 1 1/2 c. sauce and repeat so you have 4 layers of noodles. You should end with a layer of sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella (and some extra Parmesan if you have some left over).

Cover tightly with foil and bake about 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove foil. It will probably look a little runny. Don’t be scared–you still need to let it stand about 15-20 minutes. During that time, it will thicken up nicely and it won’t even be that oozy when you cut it.

This serves 12. And wanna know what’s awesome? If you use super lean ground beef, it has around 250 calories and 5 Weight Watcher points! Seriously, the TASTIEST, most filling 5 points you’ll ever have in your life.

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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. this was DIVINE! it spilled over in my 9×13 pan, so now my oven is a mess, but it was so good. word to the wise: use a cookie sheet under your pan in case it decides to spill!

  2. Just in case anyone’s still wondering about how long to bake this when it’s been frozen – I had an 8×8 Pyrex pan with this lasagna in the freezer. I put the 8×8 Pyrex pan (still covered with foil) straight from the freezer into the cold oven, turned it on to 350*F, and it took 3 hours exactly to get the center of the lasagna to 160*F.

    I didn’t preheat the oven because I didn’t want to “shock” the cold Pyrex with the blast of heat, and have it shatter.

  3. Just made this for dinner… OMG. So good. My husband LOVES it, and said the worst thing about this lasagna is he just wanted to keep eating and eating. I’m the world’s pickiest eater (ramen and PB&J sandwiches are staples of my diet) and I loved it too! I used ground turkey instead of beef, and added 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes and 1 tsp paprika to the sauce. Made them in 2 8×8 pans to freeze one for later since it’s just the two of us. This lasagna wasn’t runny at all for me. Please tell Peter and Stephanie thank you for me, I’m so glad they (and you!) shared this.

  4. I made this the other night when my IL’s came over to our house, and we all LOVED it. It was even great as leftovers, and I’m a totally leftover hater. Also, I used the old school type of noodle but did the whole wheat. I cooked them before (I have HORRIBLE luck with no boil noodles) and I actually assembled everything and froze it all for a day and a half, took it out of the oven, then baked it for an hour on 375 and it was perfect. The whole wheat noodles were great in it. We couldn’t even tell a difference (we’ve noticed with some dishes we totally can, so I was excited about that). This will be my go to home made lasagna recipe! Love it and loved the sauce! Thanks Kate!

  5. So you know that movie, “Julie and Julia?” I think I’m going to try “Our Best Bites & Wendi.” Okay, so not catchy at all, but seriously, the recipes on your site are AMAZING–no one in my family would complain a bit if I only made y’all’s recipes for the next year. So yummy!! I’m making this recipe today for our big Sunday dinner tomorrow.

    PS: I haven’t thought of the Cougareat pasta place in years (and years)! I totally used to do the same thing with the red and white sauces. Thanks for the great memory!

  6. I love your site! I’m working on May’s dinner menu & this recipe will definitely be added. My only question is, can you use homemade lasagna noodles rather than the no-boil? I’m thinking the texture should be about the same.

    1. Yep, of course! And you win the prize of the year for the most adventurous lasagna maker!! 🙂

  7. Has anyone figured out how long to cook this from frozen? I'm going to make it for the in-laws but would like to freeze half for later!

  8. This was the BEST lasagna I've ever eaten….even better then my ex-boyfriend's Italian mother's! I discovered your blog recently and have been drooling ever since! I finally got the chance to make some of the recipes and they did not disappoint. This lasagna was SO yummy. Mine wasn't runny at all – it really came out perfectly (which doesn't normally happen when I make lasagna!). I did use 1 lb of ground beef rather than the 1/2 lb it called for. Another note – Barilla oven ready lasagna noodles are smaller – so you need to use 4 per layer. I discovered this halfway through so I added extra noodles to the last two layers. We had this with the breadsticks…it was the perfect birthday dinner for my hubby…Thanks so much!

  9. Yum!!!! Just finished this one, we had it for dinner. I'd say invite some people over this makes a ton plus they will be impressed. Mine was a little runny. I can see that by tomorrow it will be perfectly set.I'm keeping this one for sure.

  10. WOW! You ladies are UH.MAZING! I never ever cooked until I found you! Now I can't stop staring at all the pictures, no lie. I made this for my husband and I have pretty much elevated to a state of perfection haha. I love the way the recipes are written, its like I have y'all telling me what to do! Thanks a million!


  11. Zanoh and Co–Yep, you could definitely make this ahead and refrigerate it (or freeze it, although I have absolutely NO idea how long you would have to bake it from frozen). If you're cooking it straight from the fridge, start by adding an additional 15-20 minutes to the cooking time and then go from there if you need to.

    Hope that helps!

  12. can you make this ahead and then cook it later? if so, how long would you cook it for? thanks! i have all the stuff to make this but with 4 kids i like to get stuff done while they are at school and just pop it in the oven later 🙂 love your blog.

  13. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I made this last night for my boyfriend and he loved it! I thought it was really delicious and like the other comments, it was still a little runny, so next time I will mix the red and white together. Overall, I was thrilled with the results.

  14. Thanks for the tip. I will mix it in next time. I actually gave this recipe to a vegetarian friend, because I thought it was so nice with the veggies in it. She'll have to add some seasonings, but I think it's a great recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Rachel–the Bechamel acts as a thickener, so that's one of the reasons I like to mix it in with the sauce.

  16. I made this for Father's Day. I used whole wheat noodles and didn't pre-cook them. I never have pre-cooked my noodles and they are always perfect. There is enough sauce to soften the noodles as they cook. And, the Italian sausage added nice seasonings to the sauce. I also kept my Bachemal separate from the sauce and layred 1/3 of it in the various layers.

    The one problem I did have, though, was that the lasagna remained very liquidy. Some of the liquid on top seemed to get absorbed as the lasagna sat, but when I cut into it, there was a lot of liquid in the pain. Overall, a great tasting recipe.

  17. I am making it this tomorrow night. I have a really yummy recipe, but I am going to give this a try. But I HATE oven ready lasagna noodles. I know people love them, but they are not as good. I know one more pot, but you are already making a big mess! Anyways, I love your blog!

  18. Made this last night for dinner, we loved it. It was my husbands b-day and he requested lasagna and gave permission to try a new recipe. The taste was awesome but even after sitting for 20 minutes post cooking it was still on the runny side. It didn’t hold it’s shape like your beautiful picture. Do you think if I drained the cans of diced tomatoes it would be better or would it lose too much flavor doing that? I double check the recipe so I don’t think I did anything wrong. We loved it, this is for sure our new lasagna recipe, especially with all the healthy vegetables in it!

  19. I made this yesterday and it was awesome! My entire family loved it. I am so thankful for oven ready lasagna noodles! Thank you for this post! This is my new lasagna recipe!!

  20. Hey Sara, I used to do the SAME thing with the red and white sauce at the Cougareat. It just isn’t the same there anymore.

    BUT anyway… that lasagne looks very yummy and beautiful too ;). You know what I like to do with my lasagnes? I like to make 2 in 8×8 pans instead of 1 9×13. Then we eat one and freeze one. We get really sick of eating leftover lasagne for days and days so it works out better.

  21. Mmmm, that looks SOOO good. I haven’t made that in at least a month! ;o) I think mixing the bechamel sounds normal because the sauces and cheese all kind of melt together and mix anyway. By the way, I’ve had so many people ask us for the recipe and I always try my best to explain how I make it, but I don’t have any exact measurements. Now I can just point them toward your site! So, thanks!

  22. Remember that little pasta place in the Cougar Eat? My favorite thing was going there and getting a plate of pasta with half marinara and half white sauce, and then I would mix them together and get a creamy-tomato-ish concoction that was so yummy! What I’m trying to say is combining the Béchamel and red sauce? Brilliant my dear.

    Love that first picture too, I just want to stab a fork in that sucker. Yum!

  23. Ok I have to admit, I am not usually a huge fan of tomato sauce based foods (spaghetti, pizza, etc) but this really does look delicious!