Tomato Lasagne


Effortless Elegance is a misnomer for Colin Cowie’s entertaining tome; the recipes are hardly effortless, but they are tried and true and many have become dependable dinner party staples over the years; especially this one. It’s a make-ahead, crowd-pleaser. His recipe calls for homemade noodles but I skip that part and use Semolina’s striped lasagne noodles for this. NOTE: I make both sauces ahead, then cook the noodles and assemble the lasagne.


Tomato Lasagne:

Cooked lasagne noodles

Tomato Sauce (recipe following)

Bechamel Sauce (recipe following)

1 1/2 cups grated fresh Parmigianno Regianno

1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


Preheat over to 375.

Cook the lasagne noodles (lay them on a clean tablecloth to keep them from sticking together after cooking). Spread a thin layer of Tomato Sauce (about 1/2 cup) over the bottom of a 15 x 10 inch baking dish. Cover the sauce with a layer of cooked lasagne noodles. Spread about 3/4 cup of Tomato Sauce over noodles, then spoon about 2/3 cup of Bechamel over Tomato Sauce. Next, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over sauce. Arrange a third of the mozzarella slices over the top.

Repeat layering the noodles, the sauces and the cheeses two more times.

Add one more layer of noodles over the top, then spread them with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan.

Bake the lasagne for 30 to 35 minutes or until it is bubbling around the edges and top is brown. Remove from oven and let the lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: Lasagne may be assembled ahead, covered and refrigerated or frozen. Before baking, let stand until room temperature.


Bechamel Sauce:

4 tbl butter

3 tbl flour

2 cups hot 1% milk

salt and freshly ground pepper


In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble about 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the hot milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the suae comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, continuing to stir, 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until very thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Make ahead: transfer to a bowl and lay plastic wrap or wax paper on surface to avoid a skin forming.


Tomato Sauce: (I’ve doubled Colin’s recipe as I found the original a little skimpy. Use leftovers for pasta).

3 tbl olive oil

2 medium onions

2 fat garlic cloves

2 28 oz can peeled tomatoes

chopped fresh basil leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper



In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds longer. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomoatoes and add  to the onion in the pan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, skimming off surface foam. Season to taste with basil, salt and pepper. If desired, season lightly with sugar.