Carnival Lasagna

2018/02/11 - Written by Vanessa Gianfrancesco
Lasagna, photo by Daniele Tomelleri

      Servings: 4-6


If the exhilarating energy that fills the air during the Venice Carnival is not enough to entice you, I can guarantee you will be mesmerized by the scent of all the festive foods lining the streets. These recipes will recreate the food at the festival right in your own home! When I imagine a carnival, I immediately think of bright, colourful and special dishes – this lasagna is just that. Layers of pasta and creamy ricotta sauce are topped with a fabulous tomato sauce and melted cheese. It’s the perfect way to celebrate.


Ingredients for tomato sauce / Ingredienti per la salsa di pomodoro

• ¼ cup of olive oil / di tazza di olio d’oliva

• 1 white onion, finely chopped / cipolla bianca tagliata finemente

• 3 garlic cloves, minced / spicchi d’aglio tritati

• 1 fresh sprig of rosemary / rametto di rosmarino fresco

• 1 can of crushed tomatoes (my favourite are San Marzano) / lattina di pomodori pelati a pezzi (i San Marzano sono i miei preferiti)

• 1 jar of passata or tomato puree / vasetto di passata di pomodoro

• 2 cups water / tazze d’acqua

• ½ cup of parsley, chopped / tazza di prezzemolo tritato

• 6-8 hand-torn fresh basil leaves / foglie di basilico fresco spezzettate a mano

• 2 cups heavy cooking cream / tazze di panna da cucina

Ingredients for the ricotta sauce / Ingredienti per la salsa di ricotta

• 450g package ricotta / confezione di ricotta 

• 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano / tazza di Parmigiano Reggiano grattugiato

• 2 eggs / uova

• ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped / di tazza di prezzemolo finemente tritato

• Salt and pepper to taste / Sale e pepe a piacimento 

Ingredients for mini meatballs

• 250g ground beef / carne di manzo macinata

• 250g ground veal / carne di vitello macinata

• ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano / tazza di Parmigiano Reggiano grattugiato 

• ¼ cup Pecorino Romano / tazza di Pecorino Romano

• 1 tsp fennel seeds / cucchiaino di semi di finocchio

• 1 tsp chilli flakes / cucchiaino di peperoncino

• 1 tsp garlic powder / cucchiaino di aglio in polvere

• 1 tbsp lemon zest / cucchiaino di scorza di limone

• 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped / cucchiai di prezzemolo finemente tritato 

• ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg / noce moscata grattugiata

• 2 tbsp breadcrumbs / cucchiai di pangrattato 

• 1 egg / uovo

You will also need / Servono inoltre

• 1 package ready-to-use lasagna / confezione di lasagne pronte all’uso

• 2 cups shredded mozzarella / tazze di mozzarella a listarelle


Preparation for the tomato sauce

In a sauté pan, warm the olive oil and add the onion and rosemary. Cook until the onions are translucent, then add the garlic and cook until golden. Add the crushed tomatoes, the passata and water. Let it simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste along with the hand-torn basil leaves. Remove the sprig of rosemary. Cool the sauce. Puree the sauce using a hand mixer or blender. Add the cream and set aside.

Preparation for the ricotta sauce

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in the fridge until you are ready to use it. 

Preparation for the lasagna

In a casserole dish (9 x 13 inches), spread a layer of tomato sauce. Then, add a layer of pasta followed by more tomato sauce, then a layer of ricotta sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat the process 3-5 times depending on how deep your casserole dish is. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the pasta is fully cooked. 

Preparation for the mini meatballs

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a bowl, mix together the ground beef, ground veal, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, fennel seeds, chilli flakes, garlic powder, lemon zest, parsley, nutmeg, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the meat mixture to form mini meatballs and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.


Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting

Togliere dal forno e lasciar riposare per 10 minuti prima di tagliare



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