This lasagna bolognese isn’t quite the classic. It’s crammed full of pork, veal, beef, and Italian sausage–plus–Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella. Last but not least, eggplant.
This lasagna bolognese boasts all the magnificence of traditional bolognese with beef, veal, pork, and sausage as well as a trio of cheeses—three types of cheese! Also lurking beneath the layers of deliciousness is gently cooked eggplant. Because being stealthy healthy never hurt anyone. Bonus? It’ll feed a small army.–Mailou and Alexandre Champagne
Lasagna Bolognese with Eggplant
For the bolognese sauce
- A generous amount of olive oil
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 pound ground beef (the fattier the better)
- 1 pound ground pork
- Two (4-oz) Italian sausages (spicy or mild) casings removed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large eggplant cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Two (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes
- One (22-oz) jar store-bought or homemade tomato passata (strained crushed tomatoes)
For the filling
- Three (14.5-oz) containers ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs of your choice (thyme, chives, rosemary, oregano, or parsley), chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
To assemble the lasagna bolognese
- One (9-to 16-oz) package oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Make the bolognese sauce
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm a couple tablespoons olive oil. Add the veal, beef, pork and sausage meat and cook, crumbling it with a spoon, until browned and no trace of pink remains. If desired, spoon off any excess fat.
- Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, and then add the eggplant, garlic, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir well.
- Add the whole tomatoes and tomato passata, season again, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and let the sauce gently simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Make the filling
- Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, herbs, Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the lasagna bolognese
- When the sauce is ready, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
- Grab a large baking dish or lasagna pan—preferably one that’s 14 inches by 10 inches (36 cm by 25 cm) or 13 inches by 9 inches by 3 inches or a roasting pan or several smaller casserole dishes. Spread 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of the dish and top with 1/4 of the lasagna noodles followed by 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Top with another 1/4 of the lasagna noodles, followed by another 1/3 of the sauce and and another 1/4 of the lasagna noodles. Top with the rest of the ricotta mixture. Smother with the rest of the sauce and top with the final layer of noodles. Sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella over the top.
- Cover with aluminum foil, being careful to loosely tent it to prevent the cheeses from sticking, and slide it in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for 30 minutes more, until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the heat and let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I was probably taking a HUGE risk when I chose this recipe for a dinner party with my in-laws and a host of my husband’s other relatives. (I’m not…how do you say…the most popular with some of them to begin with…). But I needed something that would 1. Feed a crowd and 2. Be something that everyone would like. There’s nothing quite like a nice, warm, cheesy, homemade pasta dish, so why not?
I was a little worried, though, since my father-in-law and his mother are notoriously picky eaters who won’t eat pork because it’s too “fatty,” won’t eat lamb because it’s too “gamey,” and won’t eat veal because they’re just weirded out by it. (I mean, really?!) So I wasn’t 100% honest with my guests as to what went into the bolognese sauce, but regardless, it was a huge hit! There were 7 of us total and the entire pan was basically licked clean.
I never did reveal the true ingredients to said picky eaters, so it’s already kind of a wicked inside joke between my husband and me. I used 80/20 beef and a 14-by-10-inch baking dish.
A lasagna to feed a small army—cliché but it might actually be possible with this lasagne bolognese recipe which yielded 12 very generous servings, each densely packed with hearty bolognese and herbed ricotta. As I was assembling the lasagna, I whispered “Please fit,” in my head as if I was trying on a cocktail dress from 10 years ago. I was relieved that my 9-by-13-by-3-inch lasagna pan was large enough to hold everything!
Sensing that my pan would be so full to the top that the mozzarella and Parmesan would stick to the foil during baking, I decided to tweak the order of the last three layers. After using up the ricotta, I placed the last layer of the noodles, then the sauce to cover the pasta with liquid to cook. I baked the lasagna, covered, on a parchment-lined half-sheet baking pan to catch the bubbling juices, for 20 minutes, removed the foil, topped it with the cheeses, then baked uncovered for 30 minutes.
The lasagna came out gorgeous with the entire surface evenly golden brown. It was still slightly warm after 1 1/2 hours of cooling and tender but solid enough for cutting and serving. I think you can be flexible with the types of meat you use. In fact, next time I’d like to use 4 sausages and reduce the amount of ground pork to 1/2 pound. I used Barilla oven-ready lasagna pasta—one package comes with 16 sheets, weighing 9.2 ounces (260g), although the box doesn’t say the amount. This was perfect for my 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 4 sheets for each of 4 layers. A pound of noodles would have been too much.
I think the author might have assumed 1 package weighed 1 pound, which would be typical for other dried pastas. The eggplant had disintegrated into the sauce after an hour of cooking and had very little presence in the finished lasagna.
Originally published September 11, 2016