Grandma’s Lasagna

Grandma’s Lasagna

In the 1960s and 70s, most of our family parties included the Berg family.  Tom, Evie, and their daughter Donna were always there.  Their son Tommy was serving in the military, so we didn’t see him and his wife Linda as often, but all of the Bergs have always felt like a part of our family.  Grandma’s Lasagna recipe actually came from Donna Berg sometime in the 1970s.  Donna served this at a birthday party and it was such a hit that our family has since used this lasagna recipe exclusively.

I’ve made a few modifications to this recipe over the years. I added the besciamella after living in the home of Bep Lupker in the city of Delft, The Netherlands. Bep’s lasagna included a delicious besciamella—so good that I never forgot about it. Now a lasagna doesn’t seem complete without it. I’ve also made a few modifications to the meat sauce. The original recipe can be found at the end of the post.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup (8-oz) onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground chuck beef
1 can (28-oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15-oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6-oz) tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup dry white, or dry red wine (optional)
2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried ground fennel
¼ tsp dried thyme leaves
2 whole cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
½ tsp fresh ground pepper (to taste) 
1 tsp salt

¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground fresh pepper
small pinch nutmeg

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmering; add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent and tender.  Add meat and cook until no longer pink. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth, wine (optional), and fish sauce (optional); add remaining herbs, spices & seasonings. Simmer covered on low heat for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaves (sauce is best when made a day more in advance and reheated).

Place enough meat sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan to thinly coat. Add ⅓ of the cooked lasagna noodles.  Spread ⅓ of the ricotta (and/or cottage cheese), Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese over lasagna,  Cover with ⅓ of the remaining meat sauce.  Repeat for two additional layers. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake covered at 325° for 40 minutes and uncovered for 10 minutes, or until warmed through and cheese is slightly browned.

Thoroughly heat butter and flour.  Whisk in remaining ingredients; cook until thickened.

Slice and serve lasagna topped with besciamella.


⅓ cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground chuck beef
1 can (8-oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6-oz) tomato paste
1 cup water
½ tsp oregano
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tsp salt
½ tsp basil
1 whole clove, crushed
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese (or 1 cup of each)
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz lasagna noodles, prepared

Sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender; add meat and brown.  Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and seasonings and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Place ½ of the cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a buttered 9×13 pan.  Spread ½ of the ricotta (and/or cottage cheese), Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese over lasagna,  Cover with ½ of the meat sauce.  Repeat layers.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

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