It's Chilly Again: Baked Bolognese with Lamb


Well, it least it was a little while ago. Ahhhh, Spring.

This makes a lot (let’s say 6+ servings) so you can invite a couple of people over or have extra lunches for the week. It also freezes beautifully. In fact, jwa’s having a defrosted container of it for lunch today. Myself, I’m going to my new favorite lunch place, Voila Cafe on SW 9th. Today, the special is salmon over soba noodles. But, I believe that’ll be another post.


Baked Bolognese with Lamb
Adapted from a recipe by Dave Lieberman
For the tomato sauce:
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
Couple dashes red chili flakes
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
Dash of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add oil to large skillet over high heat. Add ground lamb and saute, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add garlic, oregano, dash of cinnamon and chili flakes and cook a couple minutes. Add the wine, stir and then the tomatoes and season, to taste, with sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes as it simmers.


For the bechamel:
3 tbsp butter
1 large onion
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
1 1/2 cups 2% milk, warmed
Dash ground nutmeg
2 cups grated three-cheese blend, divided

The Rest
1 pound parcooked rigatoni
1/4 cup pine nuts


In a large saucepan melt butter over medium-high heat until bubbling. Add onions and saute until translucent. Sprinkle with flour, stirring constantly and cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Gradually whisk in the wine, if using, and then gradually whisk in the milk and nutmeg and cook until smooth, thick and creamy.


Combine the meat sauce and pasta. Cover with almost half the cheese — I like to use a little more than half the cheese covering the top of the dish.


Then pour half of that into your baking dish (lasagna pan sized — 9 X 13 — works well for this).


Spoon the bechamel over the pasta and top with the remaining pasta, ending with the rest of the shredded cheese. Sprinkle pine nuts over the top. Bake 30 to 45 minutes until browned and bubbly.


We had this with some broccolini on the side and a bottle of red wine. Delicious! Hopefully where you live, you can still sneak in one more cold-weather comfort meal before Spring hits in full.


6 Replies to “It's Chilly Again: Baked Bolognese with Lamb”

  1. Interesting and I can tell it’s tasty. But what’s “Bolognese” about it? I’m not trying to be picky but to me, Bolognese is a sauce with some ground (or preferably minced) meat, holy trinity soffrito(carrot, onion, celery), milk, white wine, broth, and a little tomato (as paste, when I make it). I suppose the bechamel could count for the milk but I just don’t see calling it Bolognese. Okay, maybe I *am* being picky… in which case I’d call the “bechamel” “Mornay.” 😉
    It LOOKS great and as I said, I’m sure it’s yummy. I just may do something like it this week, now that you got me thinking about it!
    By the way, when I make my Bolognese I make a LARGE batch because it freezes very well. I generally keep a tub or two in the freezer for those nights when there’s not much time or I just don’t feel like doing a lot in the kitchen.
    And as I’m thinking about it, it occurs to me that if you substitute eggplant for the pasta, it’s *very* like my version of moussaka which I adapted from St. Julia’s “unconventional moussaka” in “The Way to Cook.”

  2. Hi Peter:
    Welcome! 🙂
    To answer your question, the recipe I used to make this dish was called “Baked Bolognese” and was on Dave Lieberman’s Food Network Show a couple of weeks ago. I only substituted the lamb for ground beef and added pine nuts to the top…okay and the cinammon and red wine in the sauce. It’s really hard to stop once you start adding things!
    Anyway, I really didn’t rename it from the original recipe that I followed and quite honestly, I didn’t give the ingredients and their authenticity much thought — it looked good and I made it for dinner. That’s about it.
    This is actually kind of funny because I was going to just lazily call it “Baked Pasta with Lamb” when I posted it this morning, but I thought, no, I should call it by the recipe’s given name, since I’m following someone else’s recipe. *laugh*
    So, that’s what the “Bolognese” in the title is all about 😉
    And yeah, it’s a lot like moussaka. Mmmmmm….moussaka…

  3. Hi,
    This looks delish! I really love your Website. I don’t remember what link I followed first to get here but I do remember that once I started reading I went back and read your entire archives. (that’s not stalkery or rude right?) I’ve been meaning to comment for awhile. I like how you balance healthy/less healthy meals and how you add veggies to improve the unhealthy. That is usually my goal too, but I don’t always succeed. I’m living in Chicago now but moving to Oregon next month so I also like reading all your reviews/descriptions of restaurants and places to visit. OK, back to work for me!

  4. Hi Chris and welcome to you too! Nope, not stalkery or rude at all! Thanks for reading and commenting. Yep — veggies make anything healthy er, healthier…
    I think you’ll love Oregon, I know I do! 🙂

  5. Michelle,
    I tried scanning the moussaka recipe (praise Julia!) but it’s a large hardcover and doesn’t come out well. Nor could I find the recipe on the web. So I took pictures – they’re reasonably readable.
    Send me an email if you’d like her “Untraditional Moussaka” recipe – I’ll shoot the pics back to you.

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