Nonna's Lasagna: A Taste Of Home And A Homage To Italian Cooking

Italian Nonna's Lasagna refers to a traditional lasagna recipe that has been handed down through generations in an Italian family. It is a heartwarming and authentic dish prepared with layers of flat pasta sheets, rich Bolognese or marinara sauce, creamy béchamel sauce, and a variety of cheeses like mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta. The term "Nonna" is an Italian word for grandmother, and the dish is often associated with the loving preparation and expertise of grandmothers who have passed down their cherished recipes and culinary traditions to their families. Italian Nonna's Lasagna is a celebration of love, tradition, and the art of layering flavours, creating a delightful and memorable dining experience for all who taste it.

Lasagna is a popular Italian dish known for its delectable layers. It consists of flat pasta sheets, typically layered with rich Bolognese sauce or a tomato-based marinara, creamy béchamel sauce, and a variety of cheeses like mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta. The layers are assembled and baked until the cheese is melted and golden brown. The dish embodies the essence of comfort and tradition, with each bite delivering a harmonious blend of flavours and textures that evoke feelings of warmth and satisfaction.

The history of Italian lasagna traces back to ancient Greece and Rome, where layered dishes similar to modern lasagna were made with ingredients like flatbread and cheese. However, it was during the mediaeval period that lasagna, as we know it today, began to take shape in Italy. The early versions typically used fermented dough, meat sauce, and spices. Over time, lasagna evolved to include pasta sheets made from wheat flour, giving rise to the iconic dish we enjoy today.

Throughout Italy, various regions developed their own unique lasagna variations. In Emilia-Romagna, they use rich béchamel sauce and Bolognese ragù. In Naples, lasagna might feature ricotta, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. Coastal regions incorporate seafood, while the north may use pesto and vegetables. Each variant reflects the local produce, culture, and culinary traditions, showcasing the diversity and creativity within Italian cuisine.

Nonna's lasagna owes its perfection to time-honoured cooking techniques passed down through generations. One key aspect is slow-cooking the Bolognese sauce for several hours, allowing the flavours to meld and intensify. This patient process results in a rich, velvety sauce that forms the soul of the dish. Another technique is layering the ingredients thoughtfully, ensuring an even distribution of flavours throughout.

It is advised to take the extra step of blanching fresh pasta sheets briefly before assembly, ensuring the lasagna cooks evenly and retains its integrity. Additionally, cover the lasagna with foil during baking, creating a gentle, controlled environment that prevents drying and promotes even the melting of the cheese. These meticulous techniques, handed down with care, create Nonna's lasagna, a culinary masterpiece that embodies the essence of love, tradition, and expertise in every delectable bite.

Recipe For Nonna's Lasagna

                                           Video Credits: Preppy Kitchen/YouTube


For the Bolognese Sauce:

500 g of ground beef

500 g of ground pork

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

800 g of canned crushed tomatoes

250 ml (1 cup) beef or chicken broth

120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine (optional)

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Béchamel Sauce:

60 g unsalted butter

60 g of all-purpose flour

750 ml of whole milk

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Lasagna:

400 g fresh lasagna sheets (or oven-ready dry lasagna sheets)

500 g mozzarella cheese, grated

200 g Parmesan cheese, grated

250 g ricotta cheese

Fresh basil leaves for garnish


Bolognese Sauce:

 In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the ground beef and pork, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until browned and fully cooked.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, red wine (if using), oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let it cook for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Adjust seasoning if needed. Remove the bay leaf before assembling the lasagna.

Béchamel Sauce:

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1–2 minutes to form a roux.

Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming.

Cook the sauce until it thickens and reaches a creamy consistency. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

Lasagna Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

In a large baking dish, spread a thin layer of Bolognese sauce on the bottom.

Add a layer of lasagna sheets, covering the sauce completely.

Spread a layer of Béchamel sauce over the pasta, followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Add another layer of Bolognese sauce and continue the process until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of Béchamel and a generous amount of cheese on top.

Dot the surface with spoonfuls of ricotta cheese for added creaminess.

Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15–20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.


 Let the lasagna rest for a few minutes before cutting it into portions.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.

Enjoy the heartwarming flavours of Nonna's lasagna, rich with love in every layer.