Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Ragu for lasagna

I don't have an Italian bone in my body, but I sure do love good Italian food.

There is a world of difference between Italian food and Italian-American food. Both are good, but they are different.

If you go to Italy and ask for meatballs and spaghetti, you may be asked to leave.  Sure they do have meatballs and they have spaghetti, but they do not serve the two together.

The pasta would be served first, as the primo, and the meatballs would be served next as the secondo.

That's not to say this classic Italian-American combination isn't good. To the contrary, it is delicious.

Now lasagna, that's Italian. It came from the city of Naples and is classically made with a ragu, béchamel, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Let's give it a try.


I am not going to give you the complete recipe for lasagna, but just the most important component. Once you have the main ingredients, see above, plus pasta and cheese, it’s a simple matter to put together and bake. But the ragu, that’s important.

1 pound cubed beef, like for stew

1 pound Italian sausage  (out of casing)

2-3 cups whole canned tomatoes (Italian imports are best)

1-2 cups good red wine

1 large onion

1 large bell pepper

1/4 cup diced carrot

4-6 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper

Fresh oregano

Sauté the meat until well-browned, remove and set aside. Add the vegetables (not the garlic) to the same pan, add a little olive oil and cook for 10 minutes, now add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and red wine, now simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper and simmer 2-3 hours. The meats should melt into the sauce. Add the fresh herbs and cook just 10 minutes more. Add more liquid if necessary. This ragu is best the second day.