Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce

Trust me on this one, friends. Forget ricotta. Forget cottage cheese even. The best creamy layer for lasagna is a good Béchamel sauce.

Please don’t be frightened by its Frenchy name. It’s quite easy to make, really. Just some butter, flour, and milk, with some garlic and a dash of nutmeg.

I came across a recipe for Lasagna Bolognese from Smitten Kitchen which sounded divine but more than what I wanted to accomplish. But the Béchamel sauce. That’s what intrigued me. I’ve never loved the ricotta texture in lasagna, but the cottage cheese substitute wasn’t the final answer for me either. I knew I had to give this white sauce a go.

In love. That’s the best way to put it. We’ve made this dish three times in the last month and a half. That can’t be good but I don’t care.

I’ve modified the original lasagna recipe here, but not the sauce. I’ll be honest, it’s not the cheapest version of lasagna around, with the heavy dose of shredded parmesan and all that wonderful whole milk. But I regret nothing.

Some day I may try making my own noodles and slaving for hours over a meat sauce, like the original recipe suggests. But for now, I’ll stick to the rich, creamy goodness of this Béchamel sauce with tomato basil and spinach thrown in for good measure.

Lasagna with Spinach and Béchamel Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 lb. package of lasagna noodles, UNCOOKED
28 oz jar of tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil)
10 oz package baby spinach
4 cups Béchamel Sauce (see recipe below*)
1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On the bottom of a 9×13 pan, spread about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce (to prevent pasta from sticking) and place a single layer of noodles on top. Pour 1 cup tomato sauce over the noodles, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle a generous handful of spinach leaves over the sauce. Spoon 1/2 cup béchamel over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the layer with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Repeat this process 3 more times: pasta + 1 cup tomato sauce + handful of spinach + 1/2 cup béchamel + 1/3 cup parmesan. You should have 5 layers of pasta total.

On the final layer of noodles, spread 1/4 cup béchamel, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake lasagna for 30 to 45 minutes, until bubbly all over and browned on top. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*Béchamel Sauce {Smitten Kitchen}
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed (I microwave it in a glass measuring cup for 2 minutes)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 clove minced garlic
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and stir it into the butter with a whisk until smooth. Cook the mixture together for a minute, stirring constantly. Slowly pour in some of the milk, whisking constantly into the butter-flour mixture until smooth. Continue to pour small amounts of the milk in until the mixture has become more of a thick sauce or batter then you can start adding the milk in larger amounts. Once all of the milk is added, add the salt, garlic, nutmeg and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a lower simmer and cook it, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

3 thoughts on “Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce”

  1. Intriguing! Luke doesn’t like ricotta on his lasagna so we’ve always used cottage cheese, but I might just have to try this!

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