Lasagna is one of those dishes that makes me think of home. The warmth, the cheesy goodness, and the pure tastes of Italy make for great comfort food. While many of us have enjoyed lasagna before, not everyone has tasted lasagna the Sicily way.
What makes Sicilian lasagna so different is peas. Regular lasagna sheets, combined with traditional or adapted sauces mixed with fresh or frozen peas, give Sicilian Lasagna a lift as well as a healthy boost. Peas also add a sweetness to the dish that is not present in most other lasagna dishes.
Since this recipe has a lot of cheese, I have included some vegan alternatives for you to try out. Enjoy your Sicilian lasagna alone or with a delicious dessert. I love pairing lasagna with a classic and decadent Chilean Calzones Rotos. You can find our recipe for that dessert here. What makes my Sicilian Lasagna so different is the combination of not one but two sauces. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
For the Meaty Ragu
- 1 onion diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes optional
- 16 oz beef ground
- ¼ cup red wine optional
- 2 bay leaves
- 27 oz. tomato puree
- 2 cups water or chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups peas frozen (I also like to use fresh when possible)
For the Creamy White Sauce
- 2 Tbsp butter or cooking butter I love using real butter, but cooking butter or margarine works well too
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup full-cream milk
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- Salt to taste
For the Assembly
- About 8 lasagna sheets no-boil
- 2 large eggs hard-boiled
- 2 ½ cups Mozzarella cubed
- 4 Tbsp Parmigiano cheese grated
- Get all your ingredients together, and let's get cooking!
Preparing the Ragu
- Use a saucepan to sauté the diced onion, carrot, celery, and a little salt until golden.
- Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper and cook for about 1 minute. Add in the ground mince and cook for about 5 minutes, until no longer pink.
- If you are using wine, add that in and cook until evaporated. Add 1 jar tomato purée and 2 cups stock or water.
- Add the bay leaves, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and let it simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour.
- Stir in the frozen (or fresh) peas and cook for another 15 minutes.
Preparing the White Sauce
- Melt the butter on medium heat.
- Whisk in the flour until it becomes a thick paste.
- Slowly add the milk and stir while stirring continuously.
- Bring to a boil while still stirring. Once you are satisfied that your mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and add nutmeg and salt to taste.
Preparing What is Remaining
- Hard boil 3 eggs, let cool, chop, and place in a bowl.
- Grate or cut the Mozzarella cheese.
- Grate the Parmigiano cheese.
Assembling the Sicilian Lasagna
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease, then cover the bottom of your baking pan with sauce.
- Arrange the lasagna sheets to cover the sauce completely.
- Cover the layer of lasagna sheets with the ragu. (About 2 soup ladles full).
- Use a spoon to add some of the white sauce over the ragu, then sprinkle with Mozzarella, place the hard-boiled eggs, and Parmigiano cheese.
- Repeat with 3 or more layers. Do not add eggs to the top layer. (They will become dry)
- Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Once done, uncover and broil until the cheese is bubbling and light brown.
- It’s best to serve Sicilian lasagna piping hot. (Our favorite topping is an extra helping of cheese!)
Notes & Tips
- Suppose you don’t have all the ingredients on hand. In that case, you can substitute with Italian herbs, pre-diced garlic, fresh peas, or even a ready-made Italian marinara. Feel free to add in a vegetable or two, or leave out the veggies, to suit your needs and taste.
- If you would like to use traditional or homemade lasagna sheets, simply simmer the ragu for about 15 minutes longer, as it will not need to be as liquid.
- You can assemble and freeze your lasagna before baking it! Simply freeze it and bake from frozen while still covered with foil. Bake it at about 350°F for around 1 hour 30 minutes. Only uncover it for the last 15 minutes.
- The best pan to use for baking lasagna, Sicilian or otherwise, measures 9 X 13 inches with a depth of 3 inches. If you don’t have that exact size, any similar baking pan will do.
You would be forgiven for thinking there is no vegan alternative with all the cheese, butter, and milk in this recipe. Still, there is always a way, and I have some super delicious substitutions for you.
With a vegan lifestyle becoming more popular, most stores should stock all or most of these, but if you don’t wish to make your own vegan ricotta with tofu, feel free to replace it with vegan cream or a soft cheese of your choice.
- Substitute the ground beef with vegan sausage and ground beef
- Substitute the Mozzarella and Parmigiano with vegan cheese and tofu ricotta
- Substitute egg with a flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp water)
- Substitute milk with almond milk (non-sweetened) or other non-dairy milk of your choice
- Substitute butter with plant butter