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Brunetti Lasagna

Ragout lasagna (recipe from Brunetti’s mother)

One of the Brunetti family’s favorite recipes is the “ragú lasagna”, which is a recipe from the famous curator’s mother, taken from the Roberta Pianara’s book, “The taste of Venice: At the table with Brunetti” (Seix Barral, 2011), where the recipes for these novels appear; the author is a friend of Donna Leon, and her adviser on culinary matters.

I usually make lasagna bolognese which is the traditional one, but this one with ragú looked very good to me and when I tried it it seemed like a discovery; the ragout esa dish of Neapolitan origin that, in Spain, we could also find among the “vintage” recipes of the 50s; it was served with mashed potatoes, white rice or some fried potatoes; the dish basically consists of a combination of vegetables and pieces of meat of any kind (pork, veal, chicken, etc.); I usually put second class beef (black pudding, or any rest from a top) and seasonal vegetables; green beans, carrots and peas are always present and also mushrooms or mushrooms, but I put them asparagus or artichokes only if they are in season.

Brunetti loves ragout lasagna; perhaps because it is a recipe from his mother, that lady who, like the inspector’s family, comes from the working class; She is a most witty and friendly woman, (in Galicia, we would say that she is very “pavera”). She lives in a nursing home, of her own desire since she likes, above all else, to maintain her independence, although she goes weekly to eat at the homes of her children and grandchildren, whom she loves; contrary to what might also seem due to the difference in classes, he gets along wonderfully with his daughter-in-law, of Venetian aristocratic origin; both possess a very remarkable “emotional intelligence” and, in addition to respecting each other, they share a taste for life, especially for good food.

On any given day in one of his novels, Brunetti arrives at his home in the prefecture to eat as a family and finds that there is nobody; In the kitchen there is a note from his wife, who tells him that he has left her a ragout lasagna (her mother’s recipe) to be heated; the children have asked for permission to eat out, and his wife has to attend to an unexpected doctoral student. The commissioner is a little upset because he has traveled all over Venice to have lunch with his family and it turns out that there is nobody. Not knowing what to do, he begins to heat the pasta; It is such a clean day that you can see the Dolomites from your kitchen window; decides take the food on a tray to the terrace, a privileged place that overlooks nothing less than the Grand Canal; Whenever time permits, they eat in this wonderful place from where you can hear the bells, first from the Santo Polo convent, and a few seconds after San Marcos. Today you will enjoy the good Venetian spring weather, which will undoubtedly alleviate your loneliness; and as always a book of Herodotus or Shakespeare will be placed, his favorite readings, leaning on a beautiful pot full of flowers, which his wife takes great care of; the lasagna is sensational, with the tender meat, the creamy béchamel, and the pasta just right. In the end, it was worth it to go home, and get away from all the trouble of the Prefecture, even if only for a few hours.


The amounts are according to diners (see recipes for each ingredient):


A package of Lasagne all’Uovo de Barilla


grated cheese

This lasagna carries ragout, which is a meat stew with vegetables that you have in this link; bechamel, that if you do not remember the recipe, you can also go here; and finally, we will see how the layers of the Lasagna. Therefore, the ingredients are in the corresponding links, and it only remains to choose what type of pasta. Traditionally, I always made it with sheets that I cooked and then dried with a cloth (“Gallo” paste); They were very good but it was a can. Later, I tried a Barilla paste that softened in the water and left for a while (this paste is in the photo below); the truth is that the texture was a bit like chewing gum. Finally, Barilla produced a paste of Lasagne all’Uovo which is phenomenal and does not have to envy the one that is cooked. So I recommend it because it has a perfect texture. The other ingredient is cheese to cover the béchamel, which can be Parmesan or any other that you buy already grated.



1. Spread the mold with oil or butter, then you are putting a first layer of pasta:

2. If you have already made the ragú in advance (you can also put a sauce bolognese or any other type of filling) you can already spread the ragout on top of the pasta:

3. Finally, the third layer comes, which is the bechamel sauce:

3. And you start again in the same order: pasta, ragout and béchamel:

4. If the space you have left is not enough for a third round, you only do two rounds, and it will be more than enough: therefore, you end up with the béchamel. Be careful, because in most recipes they put another layer of pasta before the béchamel, but it is much juicier just with the béchamel and the cheese on top:

5. When I put it in the oven, I cover it with albal paper and leave it with the strong oven (190º) for about 20 minutes, then I take the albal and the gratin.

6. Here you have it fresh from the oven:

You can put the layers you want, that is to your liking, but I tell you that this is very good: tasty, light and at its point of everything. You see on the plate how it is not as high as other lasagnas, which have too much pasta. The filling is totally optional: bonito with tomato and boiled egg, aubergines with tomato, minced meat in a Spanish sauce, chicken with onion, cod with pine nuts and raisins, etc.

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