Old School


Among the things I could make when I got married; meatloaf, potato salad, spaghetti and meatballs, baked chicken, beef stew, chili and enchiladas.  When I had guests coming that hadn’t been recently and I wanted to go all foreign and chic, lasagna 🙂  Really.  I was such a rube!


The lasagna was always a hit.  Why wouldn’t it be with kilos of cheese, sauce, pasta and meat?  To gild the lily, I would also make butter soaked garlic bread.  We were hungrier in those days and “too much” wasn’t a part of our vocabularies.  We always had salad because that is what you served with the lasagna.  I don’t know who made that rule but it still applies today 🙂


I think obesity began in the 50s when there was plenty of actually good food (non-GM) that we decided wasn’t good enough and added sugar and other bizarre things to it; marshmallows in the sweet potatoes (heave), sweetened tomato sauce (bleah), sweetened evaporated milk as a sauce (gag).  I always like to throw in these random rants about the evolution of American food.  Okay, I’m done 😀


Anyway.  Even though France is close to Italy, I don’t think your average French person has tasted real Italian food.  Their pizzas, spaghetti bolonaise, eggplant parmesan lack something.  Something called garlic, herbs; mainly basil and oregano.  Maybe they don’t cook the tomato sauce but just take it out of the can and thinly spread it on the pizza, that is, when there is any tomato sauce.  The crusts are funny too.


My idea today was to educate M. Parret.  No, I didn’t say that to him, I just said that American Italian food tasted different from the French Italian and that I would make a lasagna to demonstrate.  I told him there would be a lot of cheese in it but, you know, cooking with cheese doesn’t really impress Le Parret, he’s a crust of baguette and a chunk of cheese man.  Still, he will not soon forget the lasagna.  He’s telling all his friends 🙂

Try not to substitute reduced/low fat ingredients (there’s something sinister about these) in this recipe, it wouldn’t be the same. Have a smaller portion, no bread and 1/2 glass of wine or, even better, splurge for a day. For the noodles, make your own or buy a package of the boiling kind or the non-boiling kind, your choice.


2 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs lean ground beef

2 onions, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup port

2 cans tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 cups ricotta cheese

1 cup parmesan cheese

3 cups buffalo mozzarella cheese, shredded

Prepared lasagna noodles

Begin to brown the beef in the olive oil, then add the onions, garlic and herbs and continue to cook until the onions are soft.  Pour in the port and boil for about 2-3 minutes, then stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.

Mix the ricotta and 1/2 cup of the parmesan together in a bowl and set aside.

In a large baking pan, coat the bottom with some meat sauce, then place some noodles on top.  Layer with the ricotta, mozzarella, more noodles, meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella and the rest of the parmesan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 F for 50 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes.  Cool for at least 15 minutes, then slice and serve.





About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Old School

  1. Bliss – there’s something so very comforting about lasagne! Yours looks so good and I’m glad M. Parret was impressed (how could he fail to be?)!

  2. Cindy says:

    I was about to head into my kitchen to make dinner..I think I’m just going to buy plane tickets instead.. save some left-overs! 🙂 Looks SO delicious!

  3. janboykin22 says:

    Reblogged this on Let's Go Shopping Shop and commented:
    I thinl lasagna is PERFECT. And yours looks PERFECT!

  4. il Teo says:

    That’s an interesting version! Never thought to use ricotta cheese (unless I bake lasagne “di magro” with spinach), I’d definitely give it a try!
    Lasagna must be trending then, I just talked about it in my latest post 🙂

  5. looks amazing! <3 please visit my blog 🙂 🙂 http://enjoybypaula.wordpress.com <3 <3 <3

  6. I HATE Low Fat stuff! (ick, blah, heave!) .. love a good lasagne though.. c

  7. Mad Dog says:

    You got me intrigued by demographics – apparently, according to Wikipedia, there are about 4.2 million people in France with Italian ancestry (including Italian citizens), whereas, 5.3 million Italians emigrated to America between 1820 and 1978. I’ve always had the impression that there’s more Italian cuisine in NYC than in the whole of France…
    I’m sure M. Parret loved your lasagna for the cheese content alone – he’ll be asking you to make it again 😉

    • I think the Italians that came to France did the same thing that the Italians did in States, adapted the cuisine to their own. In the case of the United States, it worked.

      • Mad Dog says:

        The French were kicked out of America, so I suppose there was no competition between the two very strong schools of cooking. I don’t know how many Italians there are in Quebec, but the cuisine there is very old school French in comparison 😉

    • It’s an interesting one – in “my” village in Languedoc there are many Italian immigrants, people who came during or immediately after the second world war, and there are also lots of people of Spanish descent. Do you think that they all stuck with the warmer climate and didn’t make it up to Burgundy?

      • Mad Dog says:

        I would imagine they moved where there was work and perhaps other Italians or family members.
        I would guess that the Spanish people might be Catalans who escaped Franco’s persecution. The region from the top of Spain up to Perpignan is French Cataluña (once part of Spain).

  8. pdubsny says:


  9. Trish says:

    Rant away about American food – you are right. What did happen to us? why do Americans not care about good food (and by good I mean not only good tasting but good for you)? Why do we care more about quantity than quality? I read the book French Kids Eat Everything – it was eye opening to say the least. I love the way eating ‘good’ food is such a primary concern for the French, and the government is on board with making sure it remains that way. Now I just have to find a way to move to France!

    The lasagne sounds glorious!

    • I hate to sound like an old person but I am 🙂 Television dictates how we think and live. There are more commercials than content in a half hour program. Mind snatched!

  10. jaz says:

    i love making lasagna and people love getting it!

  11. chefconnie says:

    Love lasagna. I make a huge one my friends call the 10lb lasagna and it just gets better the next day. Never out of style….

  12. I’ve pretty much cut pasta out of my life, and don’t miss it… except, except… a good lasagna. And if one is going to do lasagna, whether spinach or beef — it’s time to pull out all the stops! Your recipe (AND the photos) look awesome!!! (And I approve of your food rants!)

  13. Becky Ellis says:

    Your photos are very inviting! I will enjoy trying your delicious recipe!

  14. It took a long time for buffalo mozzarella to appear in the French supermarket…good lasagna:)

  15. sleeplace says:

    full ^^ happy

  16. Very nice Rosemary. I love a good lasagna. I also agree with your comments about American food and cannot stand what we do with sweet potatoes. Why would you add more sugar and sweetness to a sweet potato? You might as well sugar corn and I’m sure there are those folks that do.

  17. I too have learnt somewhere about the “salad goes with lasagne” rule. I don’t know where but I know it happened 😁
    Very nice my friend.

  18. Karen says:

    A good sounding lasagna, Rosemary. I’ve never used port in my sauce, do you use tawny?

  19. cant wait to try it

  20. Great looking Lasagna – I’ll try your receipe on friends next week 🙂

  21. Rosemary, I made your recipe last week for “company” – it’s absolutely wonderful!! There were only four of us, so I made one third of it in a separate dish and froze it – even though I had two nice size portions left over for lunch the following day. Tasted delicious, and I like the fact that I don’t have mess around making a bechamel sauce!

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