Mama’s Lasagna

When I think about home, I think about pasta. My mama is a damn good cook. My favorites include spaghetti and meatballs, pasta carbonara, and lasagna with meat sauce. These days my pasta comes sans meat, but I still miss the classics from my childhood. I called my mom last week and asked if she would make lasagna with me, of course she agreed. We called my Auntie Rob for some advice. My Auntie Rob could cook a shoe and have you wanting seconds.  Honestly, the woman is amazing! According to Auntie Rob, letting the lasagna set after you pull it from the oven is the MOST important part. So with this information, my mom and I began, it took all day but it is always worth every minute it takes to prepare.

Three Cheese homemade lasagna:

Ingredients: layer by layer

Red Sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. can tomato sauce (we blended a can of whole plum tomatoes until smooth)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed and peeled tomatoes
  • basil
  • italian seasoning
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt/pepper

Bechamel Sauce:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt/pepper


  • 30 oz. Ricotta ( the best you can find)
  • basil
  • 1/4 C. parmesan cheese
  • salt/pepper

Pasta: The pasta recipe can be found on the back of the Semolina package.  We used Bob’s Red Mill and cut the semolina in half, using APF for the other half. I really like the texture the semolina gives the pasta.

  • 1.5 cups semolina
  • 1.5 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • about one cup of APF for kneading, rolling and cutting

We started the day making red sauce.  It is important to let the sauce simmer, it really develops the flavor and mellow out the acidity from the tomatoes.   We combined both cans of sauce, a handful of chopped basil, 1 tablespoon italian seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on stove for at least 20m mins, the longer it simmers the better it tastes.

Next we mixed the ricotta. We used 2 15oz. containers of ricotta, salt and pepper to taste, a handful of chopped fresh basil and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Add one egg and stir until combined

Third step is to start on the pasta. Do not be intimidated. Even the baby can do it 🙂

In a large bowl beat eggs water and oil until combined.Using a circular motion mix in flour and salt until combined. Gather dough into a ball and place on well floured work surface. Knead while slowly adding flour until dough is soft and smooth and no longer sticks to hands, about five minutes of quality kneading. Roll dough into a ball, cover in flour and let rest in a bowl for 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to Roll:

Cut ball into four equal portions. Each portion will get the same treatment until all portions are rolled out.

Take first quarter and starting pasta roller on one, roll through pasta roller. next roll one setting number 3. I then take the dough and slice in half length wise. One at a time roll each piece through on setting number 4, and then finally number five. You can cut the dough to fit your pan if necessary. It is only important that each sheet is the same thickness. Continue rolling dough until all four quarters are completely rolled out and to the thickness you desire. Place large pot on stove and bring water to a boil.  Don’t forget to salt your water, don’t be shy, the water should be as salty as the sea.

Slowly cook pasta 2-3 sheets at a time depending on how big your pot is only for about a minute a piece. They should be just under al dente. Give sheets a quick rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process and lay out on a towel to dry.

Bechamel time:

Melt butter in a med sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour until a roux has formed. stirring constantly add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add milk and continue to stir. Add parmesan cheese and a handful of chopped fresh basil. Continue to stir until sauce thickens and smells delicious.

I asked my mom if she had any nutmeg and this is what she pulls out of her pantry


This nutmeg is only 2 years younger than I am. Seriously, sell by Jul 30, 1986.  Antique nutmeg!

Finally it is time to layer.  I like my lasagna more cheesy than saucy so I always go light on the sauce. By all means if you like sauce, add more sauce!  I start by adding a layer of red sauce just to cover pan. Next a layer of noodles, not overlapping if at all possible. add ricotta mix, drizzle with bechamel and red sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese. Layer one is complete. Start layer two with noodles and continue until there are three layers of noodles and cheese goodness. For the final layer top with extra mozzarella cheese and one last drizzle of bechamel.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins or until golden brown and bubbly.  I cover my lasagna with tin foil for the first 20 minutes and then remove and allow cheese to brown the last 25 mins.

Remove from oven and let it set up for at least 15 minutes. This was by far the hardest part of the whole day for me.

This lasagna is ooey, gooey, and delicious.  My father who does not like a single meal without meat, loved it and said he preferred it to the meat lasagna. That to me, is what really makes it a winner!

Now if you’ll excuse me… It’s dinner time.