It’s mid-afternoon and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t given a thought to dinner yet. But with a well-stocked pantry, you figure there are any number of things you can make with ingredients on hand. Except for one dinnertime favorite: lasagna. Who keeps copious amounts of ricotta cheese on hand? It goes bad so quickly and only has a few culinary uses.
Enter French Lasagna: It’s made with a fluffy béchamel sauce, which simply calls for milk, butter and flour instead of ricotta. The French cheese of choice is typically shredded Emmental, Gruyere or Comté. All of these are hard cheeses with subtle yet distinctive flavors that melt nicely and get golden-brown on top – much like the Conebella Farm Italian Cheddar. The Italian Cheddar is made with a young cheddar cheese so it’s not as sharp as the aged cheddars most people imagine when they hear the word “cheddar.” Plus it’s already seasoned with Italian herbs to give the lasagna an extra boost of flavor.
Here’s how to make your own French-style lasagna with two eight-once blocks of Conebella Farm Cheddar. Overall it has a mild taste, and it’s the fluffy texture that makes it different from traditional lasagna.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large, chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence, crushed
- ½ cup sweet white wine
- 2 quarts (~16oz cans) crushed tomatoes (If using store-bought, San Marzano are the sweetest)
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Ground white pepper to taste
- 3¾ cups Conebella Farm whole raw milk
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup shredded Conebella Farm Italian Cheddar
- 9-12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
- Remaining shredded Conebella Farm Italian Cheddar from the 2 8-ounce blocks
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, brown meat with onion, garlic and herbs, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat into small pieces. Add salt to taste. Once the meat has browned, add the wine and cook 1-2 minutes until mostly absorbed. Add the tomatoes and cook 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until combined. Gradually add the milk, whisking until combined and thickened, but still pourable. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Remove 1½ cups of the béchamel sauce and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the ¾ cup shredded Italian cheddar and beaten egg. Stir until combined. This is called a Mornay sauce; set it aside for the final layer of the lasagna.
- In a 9x13 baking dish, start by spreading a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Cover with a layer of noodles. Add a layer of meat sauce, then béchamel sauce and shredded Italian cheddar. Repeat layers 1-2 more times, depending on your sauce-to-noodle preference using up all of the béchamel but reserving some meat sauce and Italian cheddar for the last step. For the final layer, spread meat sauce, then Parmesan cheese, then Mornay sauce on top. Sprinkle with Italian cheddar.
- Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with hearty French bread to soak up all that delicious sauce.