An easy, classic beef lasagne made with fresh spinach pasta, a simple and delicious cheese sauce and a crispy mozzarella topping. The ultimate comfort food recipe, made from scratch.
Lasagne is the perfect meal for Sunday dinner, the easy, rich beef ragu can simmer away while you prepare the fresh spinach pasta and cheese sauce. Assemble the lasagne with layers of pasta, ragu, and sauce then top with freshly torn mozzarella before baking it in the oven until melting, bubbling and delicious.
Lasagne is quite possibly my comfort food heaven, I love everything about it, cooking the ragu on a Sunday afternoon whilst sipping on a glass of vino. Rolling out the fresh pasta, (which in my opinion makes a big difference to the whole dish and is fun to make) and preparing the silky, smooth and creamy cheese sauce.
All the elements although fairly time-consuming (to an extent) are not difficult to make and believe me it’s so worth the effort. Every time I make this beef lasagne, both my boyfriend and I never want it to end it’s just so incredibly delicious.
How to make classic beef lasagne from scratch – step by step
First, we need to make the ragu (pour glass of vino now). The ragu starts like a lot of Italian sauces, stews and soups, with Il Soffritto. Il Soffritto is very simply, finely chopped carrot, celery and white onion sauteed slowly with a little olive oil for about 10 minutes until soft. This adds incredible depth of flavour to many dishes and can even be made in advance to add into weeknight meals for an extra flavour punch.
Finely chop equal amounts of carrot, white onion and celery. Saute the chopped veggies in a large pan with a little olive oil. The key is to saute the veg slowly on a low/medium heat so they soften and release all the delicious flavours without browning or burning (around 7-8 minutes)
Once the vegetables are soft add the beef mince and pork mince to the pan and brown then add the red wine and continue to cook until the wine has reduced by half.
Top Tip: Pork mince is sweeter and fattier than beef mince by using equal amounts of beef and pork mince it gives the ragu tons of extra flavour. This is something I always do, I sometimes add one or two sausages into the ragu instead of pork mince but I very rarely use only beef.
Once the wine has reduced add the tomato passata/pureed tomatoes and beef stock. Stir the sauce and let it simmer on a low heat for 2 and a half hours.
Tip: If the sauce reduces too much add an extra cup/230ml of water and stir.
How To Make Fresh Spinach Pasta – Step By Step
Wash the spinach and shake off any excess water. Add it to a hot pan and let it wilt down for a minute or two (no need for olive oil).
Once wilted, set the spinach aside to cool then squeeze as much water out as possible.
Blitz the wilted spinach together with 2 large eggs and add it to a bowl of flour with a well in the middle. Mix the mixture together with a fork until it starts to come together then use your hands to start kneading the dough.
Tip the dough on to a clean work surface and knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth and shape into a ball.
Tip: to rest the dough is ready, cut it in half, if there are tiny air bubbles in the dough it’s ready, if not then knead it for longer.
How To Make Cheese Sauce For Lasagne – Step By Step
- For this beef lasagne recipe, I have used olive oil to make the cheese sauce instead of butter. To use butter substitute the olive oil for 50g butter.
Add the olive oil to a saucepan and warm it for a couple of seconds before adding the flour (photo 1).
Once the flour has been added mix it together with a whisk or wooden spoon to form a paste and let it cook for one minute (this cooks the flour so you don’t have a floury taste in your sauce) photo 2.
Add a little milk and whisk constantly to remove any lumps. Once it has started to thicken add a little more milk (around 1/4 at a time) until you have used up all the milk (photo 3).
Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, take it off the heat and add nutmeg, salt and pepper and cheese (photo 4).
How To Assemble The Beef Lasagne
Cut the pasta in half, flatten it with the palm of your hand then roll it out into pasta sheets using a pasta machine or rolling pin. You’ll need extra flour to dust the work surface or machine.
Cut the pasta big enough to fit your baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4. To assemble the lasagne, spoon a small amount of ragu on the very bottom of the baking dish. Top with a sheet of spinach pasta then add a few more spoons of ragu followed by 2 tbsp of white sauce.
Continue with the layers until everything is used up, make sure to keep an extra couple of tablespoons of white sauce for the very top layer.
Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and add torn pieces of mozzarella to the top and bake the beef lasagne again uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Let it cool slightly for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with salad and crusty bread.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. It’s not one of those quick, one pan dinners that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes however it is a simple meal to make none the less and you will be rewarded for the extra effort, trust me it is dee-licious!
The beef ragu for this beef lasagne is so easy to prepare then is left to simmer (no work involved there) and although I love to make homemade pasta you can easily speed things up by using store-bought fresh lasagne sheets. You may need to cut some of the pasta sheets to fit your dish, which is absolutely fine and I often use store bought when I’m short on time.
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Classic Beef Lasagne with Spinach Pasta
- 2 cups (300g) 00 flour *
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cups (100g) cooked spinach
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 heaped tbsp flour all-purpose
- 2 cups (500ml) full fat milk
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
- salt and pepper to season
- 1 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated optional
- 2.8 oz (80g) gruyere cheese grated (optional)
- Finely chop the carrot, onion and celery and saute the vegetables gently in a large frying pan with the olive oil. Once the vegetables are soft add the beef and pork mince and cook until browned.
- If there is a lot of excess fat in the pan, spoon some out. Add the red wine and reduce by half. Once the wine has reduced, add the pureed tomatoes and beef stock and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Stir everything together and leave to simmer on a low heat for 2 and half hours. Add an extra 1 cup/230ml of water after one hour if the sauce has reduced too much.
- Blitz the cooked spinach with the eggs using a food processor or hand held blender.
- Add the flour to a bowl and create a well in the centre. Add a pinch of salt to the flour then add the spinach and eggs to the well.
- Using a fork, start to incorporate the flour, mixing until it starts to come together to form a dough.
- Tip the dough on to a clean work surface and bring it together with your hand and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. Test the dough is ready but cutting it in half, if there are tiny air bubbles it’s ready. If not keep kneading the dough.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest for half an hour.
- Add the olive oil to a saucepan and warm it for a couple of seconds before adding the flour.
- Once the flour has been added mix it together with a whisk or wooden spoon to form a paste and let it cook for one minute (this cooks the flour so you don't have a floury taste in your sauce).
- Add 1/4 of the milk and whisk constantly to remove any lumps. Once it has started to thicken add a little more milk (around 1/4 at a time) until you have used up all the milk.
- Continue to heat the sauce whilst stirring until thick. Once it's thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, take it off the heat and add nutmeg, salt and pepper and cheese if making a cheese sauce.
- If making a cheese sauce stir the sauce until the cheese has melted. You may need to put it back on the heat for a few seconds. If it thickens too much add another splash of milk.
Assemble the lasagne
- Cut the pasta in half, flatten it with the palm of your hand then roll it out into pasta sheets using a pasta machine or rolling pin. You’ll need extra flour to dust the work surface or machine.
- Cut the pasta big enough to fit your baking dish.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4. To assemble the lasagne, spoon a small amount of ragu on the very bottom of the baking dish. Top with a sheet of spinach pasta then add a few more spoons of ragu followed by 2 tbsp of white sauce.
- Continue with the layers until everything is used up, make sure to keep an extra couple of tbsp of white sauce for the very top layer.
- Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and add torn pieces of mozzarella to the top and bake again uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
- Let it cool slightly for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with salad and crusty bread.
- 00 flour can be substituted with all purpose flour.
- pre-bought fresh lasagne sheets can be used to replace the homemade spinach pasta to speed things up. It will still be an absolutely delicious meal.
- Spinach pasta recipe is from The Italian Cookery Course recipe book by Kate Caldesi.
- Gruyere cheese can be replaced with fontina cheese or omitted altogether.
- I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
- When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
- All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
- All recipes are tested and developed using a fan oven
- Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
- Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
- You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here