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Easy Classic Lasagna With Pancetta Recipe

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Although homemade lasagna can take quite a bit of time, it's still an easy recipe. Most of the almost four hour cook time is not active cooking, but instead is simmering the sauce or cooking the lasagna in the oven.

This recipe has prosciutto, but it can easily be omitted to make a vegetarian lasagna. This recipe is also so simple that it can be changed easily to include sausage, ground beef, spinach or anything else on hand.

The marinara sauce can be made up to a few days ahead of time and refrigerated, and the filling can be made up to the night before and refrigerated. That way you can just assemble the lasagna and cook it after you get home from work.

Lasagna also makes a wonderful freeze ahead dish. The rolls are especially convenient for this. Simply assemble the lasagna, but before the final step of baking it, cover it as airtight as possible and freeze it.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

3 hours 17 min

3 hours 47 min

12 servings of 2 lasagna rolls

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 28-ounce cans San Marzano plum tomatoes

For the Lasagna:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 16-ounce box lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves roughly chopped


Cook the onions and pancetta mixture until soft, but not browned  or caramelized.

Cook the onions and pancetta mixture until soft, but not browned or caramelized.

Add the pureed tomatoes and simmer the sauce for 2-3 hours, making sure to stir, taste, and season frequently.

Add the pureed tomatoes and simmer the sauce for 2-3 hours, making sure to stir, taste, and season frequently.

Instructions to Make the Sauce


1. Pour the 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot, and allow to heat over medium-high heat before adding the pancetta. Cook the pancetta until golden brown (4-5 minutes).

2. Continue cooking on medium-high heat as you add the onions and season generously with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, but not brown. Lower the heat if onions are browning too quickly. Stirring frequently, this should take about 6-7 minutes.

3. While the onions are cooking, puree the tomatoes in a food processor or food mill. To skip this step simply but pureed or crushed tomatoes.

4. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 2-3 more minutes stirring.

5. Add the pureed tomatoes to the sauce, as well as 2 1/2 cups of water. Salt the sauce generously with salt. Tomatoes like potatoes can require a lot of salt. Simmer 2-3 hours covered, stirring regularly. You may need to adjust the heat to keep the sauce from burning or boiling.

Laying out all of the ingredients can make it simpler and easier to form the lasagna rolls. From left to right: lasagna noodles on the paper towels drying, my baking pan with a layer of sauce ready to accept the rolls, and my filling. (Plus my iPad R

Laying out all of the ingredients can make it simpler and easier to form the lasagna rolls. From left to right: lasagna noodles on the paper towels drying, my baking pan with a layer of sauce ready to accept the rolls, and my filling. (Plus my iPad R

Spread the filling down the middle of the noodles, and add a little extra pancetta if your heart desires.

Spread the filling down the middle of the noodles, and add a little extra pancetta if your heart desires.

What a roll should look like.

What a roll should look like.

Make sure to cover the lasagna evenly with sauce, and to get it in between the rolls and rows.

Make sure to cover the lasagna evenly with sauce, and to get it in between the rolls and rows.

The finished lasagna.

The finished lasagna.

Instructions for Assembling the Lasagna


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, making sure to once again salt generously. Noodles should be boiled in the water of the sea.

2. Boil the noodles for about 10 minutes, or until al dente.

3. Drain the noodles and quickly submerge them in another large bowl filled with ice water. This will stop the cooking automatically. You may want to put this bowl in the sink in case of any overflow.

4. Make the filling: mix the ricotta, pecorino, 1/4 cup Parmesan, half of the mozzarella, the 2 eggs, thyme and two tablespoons salt in a bowl. The filling can be made earlier in the recipe while the sauce is simmering, or the noodles are boiling, and just put in the fridge with plastic wrap over it. Note: this is not the tastiest cheese mixture to lick off your fingers. So if you're a messy mixer, grab the paper towels.

5. Preheat the oven to 375.

6. Drain the pasta, and lay it in a single layer on a clean towel or a few layers of paper towels.

7. Coat the bottom of a glass 9 X 13 baking pan with a thin layer of sauce/

Assemble the rolls:

8. Take a lasagna sheet, and spread about three tablespoons of filling down the middle of the length of the sheet. If I have leftover pancetta, I layer a slice on top of the filling, before loosely rolling it. Keep it loose enough to not push the filling out, but tight enough that it stays somewhat pin-wheel shaped so that you can fit as many in the pan as possible.

Assemble and Cook the Lasagna:

9. Layer the lasagna rolls in a single layer on top of the sauce, with the seam facing down into the sauce. In a 9x13 pan, I normally get three rows of about 6-7. Leave some room between the rolls for the sauce.

10. Cover the rolls with sauce, making sure that sauce gets between the rolls and the pan, as well as between all the rolls. It should take about 3-4 cups of sauce. Save the remaining sauce to use when serving.

11. Cover with the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan.

12. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Pair the lasagna with a fresh salad for a filling, yet healthy meal.

Pair the lasagna with a fresh salad for a filling, yet healthy meal.

For more classic Italian recipes, check out Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.

“Marcella’s book is the most authentic guide to Italian food ever written in the U.S. Where other authors failed, Marcella has brilliantly succeeded in capturing (and conveying to the reader on every page) the feel, the aromatic scent, the subtle nuances of fresh country flavors and, above all, the easy uncomplication of Italian food prepared in the Italian style.”

— Roy Andries de Groot