So, this is a baked lasagna dish with Béchamel sauce instead of the usual tomato sauce. If you think that makes a bland pasta dish, consider that there’s ground beef browned with cumin to give off an earthy sweetish flavor and aroma.
Have I mentioned pesto? You might not see it in the photo above but, yes, there’s pesto in every layer of this lasagna dish too. So, you see, tomato sauce is not a must for a good lasagna casserole. But don’t scrimp on the Béchamel sauce and cheese. You’ll regret it if you do.
About the cheese… there’s a copius amount of cheese in this dish. Two cups of shredded mature cheddar tucked between the layers of pasta, meat and sauce.
Yep, mature cheddar instead of the usual mozzarella. Why? Flavor. While mozzarella will give you that stringy effect when a cut portion is lifted, mozzarella is bland. Aged cheese like mature cheddar gives baked lasagna better flavor.
As with any layered baked lasagna, there are four steps in preparing this dish. You have to cook the meat, make the Béchamel sauce, boil the noodles and then assemble them in a baking dish.
Once all the components are ready, you have to divide them into portions. How many portions depends on how many layers you want to make. And how many layers you can make depends on the height of your baking dish.
The number of noodles you’ll need depends on their width and length. For a neat baked lasagna, cut the noodles to fit the pan during assembly.
The dish is assembled pretty much the same way as lasagna with meat and red sauce. First, coat the bottom of the baking dish with Béchamel sauce so that the noodles don’t stick to the bottom during baking. Then, add a layer of cooked lasagna.
Cover the noodles with one portion of the cooked ground beef then ladle a portion of Béchamel sauce over the meat.
A portion of pesto goes on top of the Béchamel sauce-covered meat and everything is covered with a portion of shredded cheese. Then, you repeat the layering and pop the lasagna into a preheated oven.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
Brown the beef
- Heat the butter in a frying pan.
- When the froth dissipates, spread the ground beef.
- Cook without disturbing until the underside is browned. Stir, breaking up lumps, and continue cooking until the meat loses its raw appearance.
- Sprinkle in the cumin, oregano and thyme. Add salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is almost dry.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
Assemble the dish
- Spread about two tablespoons of the Béchamel sauce on the entire bottom of an 8″x8″ baking dish.
- Arrange the lasagna on top of the Béchamel sauce.
- Scatter a third of the ground beef over the noodles.
- Pour a third of the Béchamel sauce over the meat.
- Take a third of the pesto and drop by teaspoonfuls over the white sauce.
- Spread a third of the shredded cheese over the layers of noodles, meat and sauces.
- Repeat the layering procedure until you have three layers of everything.
- Bake the lasagna with Béchamel sauce and pesto at 400F until bubbly and the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
- Rest the baked lasagna for about ten minutes before cutting and serving.