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Ring of Fire





This is one of Lark’s mom’s specialties, and it’s what she prepares the first night Eric comes to dinner.


  • 1/2 lb lasagna noodles (fresh or dried)
  • Bolognese sauce: [or of course you can short-cut and use your favorite brand of rich, chunky tomato sauce]
  • 1/4 lb smoked ham, coarsely chopped (or substitute cooked bacon with fat removed)
  • 1 cup onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • garlic as desired, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 3/4 lb lean ground pork
  • 1 cup beef stock or beef consommé
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/w tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 28 oz can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup milk or cream (you can use anything from 2% milk to heavy cream, depending on how rich you want the sauce to be)
  • Besciamella (bechamel):
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or a combination of Parmesan and Romano)


Make bolognese sauce:

Heat olive oil and butter in heavy 12" skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Add chopped ham/bacon, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Add ground beef and pork and cook, stirring, until meat no longer looks red and raw. Raise heat, add beef stock and white wine, and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated. Turn down to simmer, add seasonings, and cook for 20 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Raise heat until mixture boils. Then turn down to a low simmer and cook for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally so it won’t stick.

Add the milk/cream and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The sauce is now ready to use in lasagna or over pasta.

Make besciamella:

Melt butter over moderate heat in a heavy 2 to 3 quart saucepan. Stir in flour. Remove pan from heat and pour in milk and cream together, all at once, beating with a wire whisk. When the flour is partially dissolved, return the pan to the stove and cook on high, whisking constantly. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens into a smooth cream, reduce heat to simmer. Keep whisking and cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and nutmeg.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions until al dente (not overcooked). Rinse with cold water and lay noodles side by side on paper towels to dry.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" x 12" x 3" baking dish. Spread about 1/4 of the bolognese sauce evenly over the bottom of the pan, about 1/4" thick. Spread slightly less than 1/3 of the besciamella on top. Lay 1/3 of the noodles on top, overlapping the strips slightly. Repeat the layers of bolognese, besciamella, and noodles twice more, then top with the last 1/4 of bolognese and a little bit of besciamella. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake 30 minutes, or until it’s bubbling hot.

Serve with a green or Caesar salad, Italian bread, and red wine.


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