Lasagna without Ricotta—cheesy, amazing lasagna made with a cheese Béchamel sauce instead of ricotta cheese.
My family loves Italian food so it’s always our first choice when going out to eat. And the two times that we’ve been away from home and turkey at Thanksgiving, an Italian restaurant has been our special meal place. Someone in the crowd always orders lasagna and I find it interesting to see the different ways that chefs make lasagna. Even though it’s basically the same dish everywhere—pasta, sauce, cheese—there are thousands of possible variations within the sauce and cheese parameters. So this recipe for lasagna without ricotta is just one version and made the way my family prefers lasagna—with no ricotta or cottage cheese—and it’s hearty, cheesy, messy and really, really good.
I make a Béchamel sauce for this lasagna that may not be a true Béchamel, but it’s a cheese sauce from my macaroni and cheese recipe. I swap in Asiago cheese for the cheddar.
Here’s the thing: this is not a quick and easy recipe. It is time-consuming, but worth it. But it’s a great party dish because you can make it the day before and just bake it right before your event. You can even make the Bolognese sauce a couple of days before you put the lasagna together.
I use freshly grated and sliced mozzarella, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan, and freshly grated Asiago. I prefer the regular old dried noodles that you cook in a pot of water and then battle to drain and keep moist enough to use. They are a pain but I think they are the best. I used fresh lasagna noodles once and my lasagna was a disaster so I’ll never do that again. But each to his own. I do sometimes use the pre-baked noodles though, because I like the flat ones like in the photo below.
How to Make Lasagna without Ricotta
Start by making the Bolognese sauce. You can do this up to three days before you want to bake the lasagna. Next, you’ll get ready for the lasagna and make the Béchamel sauce. Mise en Place.
Slice some mozzarella cheese or buy pre-sliced. Grate some additional mozzarella cheese, enough for about five cups. Grate the Asiago cheese, 5 cups. Grate 4-5 cups of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
To make the cheese sauce, melt some butter completely in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Then slowly whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking continuously, for about two minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and half and half and whisk continuously for about 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove pot from heat and stir in nutmeg, salt and pepper. Then stir in the grated Asiago cheese until melted and sauce is smooth. Set this aside and start assembling your lasagna.
Spray the lasagna pan lightly with cooking spray and then spread about 1/2 cup Bolognese sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of pasta, overlapping the edges slightly and cutting to fit the pan if needed. Then another layer of Bolognese, about a cup. Next, a layer of Bechamel, about a cup. Sprinkle lightly with some Parmesan. Add layer of pasta. Layer of Bolognese. Add layer of Bechamel, about a cup. Layer of mozzarella cheese slices. You won’t cover the pasta completely. Sprinkle some Parmesan over the mozzarella. Pasta. Bolognese. Bechamel. Mozzarella. Parmesan. Pasta. Bolognese. Bechamel. The last layer should be pasta, then Bolognese topped with mozzarella and Parmesan. Be sure you cover the pasta completely or it will dry out.
At this point, you can keep the lasagna overnight in the refrigerator and just take it out about 45 minutes before you are ready to cook. Then bake at 375° for about 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.
This lasagna without ricotta will not be the pretty kind of lasagna that you get in wonderful amazing Italian restaurants. It’s cheesy and messy and will run all over the plate. But your family and your guests will not mind, I promise you. They will be too busy scooping up every last bite.
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 5 cups asiago cheese grated
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- One recipe Bechamel sauce
- One recipe bolognese sauce
- One pound lasagna noodles cooked and laid out on kitchen towel
- 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lb. sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
On medium-high heat, melt butter completely in large skillet or Dutch oven. Slowly whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking continuously, for about two minutes.
Slowly whisk in milk and half and half and whisk continuously for about 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove pot from heat. Stir in nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Stir in grated cheese until melted and sauce is smooth. Set aside.
- Bolognese sauce on bottom of pan, about 1/2 cup or a little more.
- Add layer of pasta, overlapping edges slightly and cutting to fit the pan if needed.
Layer of bolognese, about a cup. Layer of Bechamel, about a cup.
Sprinkle lightly with some Parmesan. Add layer of pasta. Layer of bolognese. Add layer of Bechamel, about a cup.
Layer of mozzarella cheese slices. You won't cover the pasta completely. Sprinkle some Parmesan over the mozzarella. Continue layering and end with bolognese topped with mozzarella and Parmesan.
- You can keep this overnight in the refrigerator if you want to make it ahead.
- Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I use a lasagna pan, which is slightly deeper than a regular 9x13 dish. If using a dish you will probably want to decrease layers just a bit.