Ocala Cooks | Gorka Aperribay

Gorka Aperribay is a first-generation American whose parents were born and raised in the Basque region of Spain. “My mom has always been an excellent cook and one of her specialties was lasagna. Being European and having some Italian friends, she cooked the lasagna how an Italian would, with bechamel instead of ricotta cheese as is traditionally made in the United States. This recipe is a hit at the fire station, and I think it’ll be sure to please your family too.”



1 box lasagna noodles

1 pound ground beef

1/2 red onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, diced

1 28-ounce can Pomodoro tomatoes 

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce 

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter

1 ½ to 2 cups room temperature milk

2 packs shredded Mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Fresh basil (to taste)

Oregano (to taste)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Olive oil

Cooking spray

Meat sauce:
In a large pot on medium heat, add some olive oil and the fresh garlic, the red onion and a few leaves of basil, ripped. When it begins to simmer and becomes aromatic, add the Pomodoro tomatoes and tomato sauce. Using a masher, break up the tomatoes and stir the sauce, making sure it does not come to a boil. In a separate pan, sear the ground beef on all sides without breaking it up. Add the ground meat to the sauce, where it will finish cooking, and break it apart to allow the flavors to meld. Add oregano, salt, pepper and basil to taste. Cook on low heat for 1 hour, minimum. 

This sauce can be tricky to make but is well worth it. In a saucepan, add 3 tablespoons each of flour and butter to create a roux. After 1 to 2 minutes, slowly add the room-temperature milk and whisk to incorporate until a smooth sauce forms. Cook on low heat for several minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. If it is too thick, add more milk and continue to stir. When you reach your desired consistency, add Parmesan if desired and salt to taste.

Lasagna noodles:
Boil per instructions until al dente, or slightly firm to the bite. 

Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread some meat sauce on the bottom. Cover the bottom with noodles, usually 3 to 4. Spread meat sauce over the noodles, followed by the bechamel sauce, then Mozzarella, making sure to cover the noodles from edge to edge. Repeat 3 to 4 times to use up all noodles and sauces.

The final layer should have cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Allow the lasagna to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before serving.

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