Disney at Home: Lasagna Bolognese from Trattoria al Forno

Trattoria al Forno

Trattoria al Forno is the forthcoming Italian restaurant that will be moving into the current space of Kouzzina at the BoardWalk Inn, after its closure on September 30th.

Chef Lenny DeGeorge (executive chef, Concept Development, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts) talks about some of the “less is more,” authentic Italian dishes the restaurant will be serving, such as charcuterie, pasta carbonara, and chicken Parmesan. On the recipe he shares at the Disney Parks Blog, he notes it is “moist, rich, and nothing like the Americanized version most of us grew up eating.”

Now I can’t speak much on how authentic this recipe is, and I guarantee you every person has their own idea on what the authentic version is, so I’m not going to even start that argument. I just know that it wasn’t a staple in my house growing up, and I can guarantee you the versions on both the German and Russian sides of the family would make Italians shake their head. My Italian uncle (by marriage) made sure he’d have Christmas dinner at his mother’s house after my paternal grandmother made her version with its sweet, heavy meat sauce.

I think I’ve only made lasagna myself once, when I moved away from home after college. I’m sure it was very much a “follow the recipe on the box” deal, and needless to say, it was forgettable. So between Matt being a fan of lasagna, and testing out the recipe for the blog, it was time. So without further ado, let’s get cooking!

I’ve separated out each section of ingredients with its own picture rather than trying to wrangle everything into one.

Lasagna Bolognese from Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk
Serves 8 to 10

Turkey Bolognese

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-turkey-bolognese-ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

The ground turkey packages that were available were around 20.8oz, so instead of having an extra for ounces of turkey in sitting in my freezer, I decided to incorporate it for a meatier Bolognese. My tomatoes were 26.46 ounces, so I just made do. I also added heaping 1/4 teaspoons of the oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper to up the flavor a bit due to the extra meat.

Alfredo Sauce

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-alfredo-sauce-ingredients

  • 1 1/2 quarts half and half
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Naturally with any pot on a stove, but especially dairy, keep your eye on that business. I literally checked the pot, pulled the Bolognese off the heat, and heard that sizzle. Fortunately, it wasn’t all that bad and I recovered quickly. Now, does authentic Alfredo sauce use cornstarch as a thickening agent? I didn’t think so.

Ricotta Filling

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-ricotta-filling-ingredients

  • 1 (32-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Now don’t mind that there are only two eggs in the photo – I did use three. They just happened to crack when the carton tumbled onto the floor of my Jeep, so I put them into a container before use. The 6th little guys didn’t make it at all. 😦

Lasagna

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-lasagna-ingredients

  • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella, divided
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan, divided

I think the first layer of Alfredo sauce is supposed to get half of the Parmesan, but only the final layer mentions any Parmesan, so that layer got it all.

For turkey Bolognese:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add turkey, onion, and garlic and sauté, breaking up turkey, until turkey is cooked through.
  2. Drain any grease from pan and add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
  3. Use water to rinse tomato can and add to pan, stirring well. Add sugar, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper, stirring well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer 30 minutes, covered, stirring often.

This part was nice and simple, just shy of being a “dump everything into a pot.” I gave it a stir every 5 minutes or so and gave it a quick taste, just to see how the flavors were developing.

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-turkey-bolognese-1Turkey, Onion and Garlic Cooking

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-turkey-bolognese-2All the ingredients after simmering for 30 minutes

For Alfredo sauce:

  1. Combine half and half and garlic in a large saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil.
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in water; whisk cornstarch mixture into boiling half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer mixture 3 minutes, whisking frequently. Stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

It is true – a watched pot never boils. But watch this puppy! You turn your back for ONE SECOND! 😉

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-alfredo-sauce-cheese-spicesParmesan, Salt, and Pepper

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-alfredo-sauce-combinedCombined Half & Half, Cornstarch with Water, and Parmesan Mixture

For ricotta filling:

  1. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir until well combined.

Straightforward.

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-ricotta-filling-before

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-ricotta-filling-after

For lasagna:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Ladle half of Alfredo sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch glass-baking dish. Top with 3 lasagna sheets. (Pasta will expand to cover filling.)
  3. Ladle half of turkey Bolognese on top. Top with 3 lasagna sheets. Gently spread half of ricotta filling over lasagna sheets and top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Top with 3 lasagna sheets.
  4. Top with remaining Bolognese and 3 more lasagna sheets. Spread with remaining ricotta mixture and top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
  5. Top with 3 lasagna sheets, remaining Alfredo sauce, and shredded Parmesan.
  6. Wrap pan tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil.
  7. Bake 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more. Let rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.

I’m not going to show pics of each layer – I’m sure you get the idea. But this recipe made WAY too much Alfredo and Ricotta for my 9″x13″ pan (trust me, it wasn’t those 4 extra ounces of turkey that did me in). I ended up having to  prepare mine:

1/2 of the Alfredo sauce
3 lasagna sheets
1/2 of the Bolognese
3 lasagna sheets
1/2 ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3 lasagna sheets
1/2 of the Bolognese
3 lasagna sheets
Uh ohhhhhhhh…
1/2 remaining Ricotta (1/4 of its original, full volume)
1 cup shredded mozzarella (There’s ALWAYS room for cheese. ALWAYS.)
1/2 remaining Alfredo sauce (1/4 of its original, full volume)
Shredded Parmesan

I was nervous about everything fitting from the get-go, but here is the “Uh oh” moment:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-uh-oh-moment

And my final solution:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-solution

This left me with four leftover lasagna sheets, 1/4 volume of the Ricotta, and 1/4 volume of the Alfredo sauce. So what did I do? I busted out my 9″x9″ baking pan and assembled what will likely be death by cheese. I had 8oz. of mozzarella left from my brick and shredded it, along with a healthy portion of Parmesan from a wedge I had. It went Alfredo, 2 lasagna sheets, ricotta cheese, 1/2 the mozzarella, 2 lasagna sheets, remaining mozzarella, and Parmesan on top. It wasn’t until after I had assembled the second cheese-beast that I looked in the freezer and spotted some chopped spinach I could have thawed, squeezed, and incorporated.

Here’s what it looked like once assembled:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-auxiliary-solution

So the moral of the story is to make sure your 9×13 pan is a high sided one, or plan to split it up between a 9×13 and an 9×9 (which will require a second box of lasagna to get the same number of layers).

One thing I liked about this recipe is how everything is already in stages, so you don’t have to gather all your ingredients at once. There’s time to work on the nest item while the previous one cooks. But keep in mind that half and half when it’s on the burner!

I prepared mine post-work on a weeknight, so I put it in the fridge to bake the following night. Because it was chilled, I knew it would take longer in the oven, but I wasn’t sure how long, so I attempted to follow the recipe for the first 1 hour and 15 minutes. Note: Before putting it from the fridge into the oven, I sprayed the foil coming in contact with the cheese with some cooking spray to prevent it from sticking. This may not be “authentic” either, but it worked. You could always try it with another cooking oil, either brushed on or maybe sprayed with a manual bottle. 

After 50 minutes at 350, I started getting nervous it was going to be too cold from the fridge. The house hadn’t yet begun to smell all kinds of yummy, so I cranked it up to 400. After 25 minutes, at the end of the cooking time, I uncovered it to find this:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-solution-cook-1

Yup, still cold/significantly chilled thru. So I rewrapped the top layer of foil and cranked the oven up yet again, this time to 450 (the max temp my dish can take), and put it in for 30 minutes. It was warmed through, but just warmed despite some steam coming off the cheese.

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-solution-cook-2

Meanwhile, I just uncovered the smaller pan, which looked pretty weak:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-auxiliary-solution-2

I tossed it back in the oven and said, “Eh, whatever happens, happens.” After 15 more minutes at 450, we got this:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-auxiliary-solution-3

I should have just nixed the noodles, bought some garlic bread, and called it Italian Queso Garlic Bread Dip. I mean, I’m sure adding spinach would have been really good, too, but this is just wonderfully unhealthy, especially around the edges where the cheese got all crispy.

Back to that big lasagna – 15 minutes later at 450:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-solution-cook-3

Unwrapped and baked for a final 15 minutes:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-solution-cook-4

Success!

It says to let it rest for 15 minutes, but after five we dug in because it was late and we were hungry. However, I did cut a slice when we were done so you could see the finished product:

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-1

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-2

disney-at-home-lasagna-bolognese-trattoria-al-forno-3

Visually compared to Trattoria al Forno’s, it’s not too bad looking. It’s missing some layers and therefore sturdiness, but for my first “real” shot at lasagna, I’m not complaining. And how did it taste? Matt and I both really enjoyed it. I thought the the flavors were well balanced despite my modifications. Matt loved this because it incorporated Alfredo sauce, one of his favorite things. And when I told him it was made with turkey and not beef, he (after pretending to spit it out) said he didn’t even know.

Would I make it again? Absolutely, but first I’m going to invest in an actual lasagna or other high-sided dish to make this properly. Or just make the Alfredo and ricotta portions with mozzarella and Parmesan into a dip… 😉 There’s definitely no way we’ll be able to make it through the whole pan before tiring of it (I’m usually done after two meals), so I’ll be freezing this to enjoy during a quick weeknight dinner down the road.

Some final thoughts on the cooking process: I’m sure if it was assembled and cooked after prepping the ingredients, it would have been perfectly fine. I just didn’t want to be eating lasagna at midnight. If you decide to chill yours overnight, I’d suggest the entire cooking process at 400 degrees, but then again, all oven vary (I used my full size electric oven instead of my smaller convection due to two pans – another factor in the cooking time). I also cooked mine on cookie pans because I was nervous about spillage, especially with the 13×9, but I don’t think this had too much impact on the overall cooking time. Under the foil, the sides of my pan were greasy due to oils from the cheese bubbling over, so I highly recommend you do in fact cook this on a foil-lined tray for easier cleanup.

Let us know if you think you’ll give this recipe a try, or if you’re going to visit Trattoria al Forno when it opens!

And to make it easier for you to follow, here is the recipe again without my commentary:

Lasagna Bolognese from Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk
Serves 8 to 10

Turkey Bolognese

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Alfredo Sauce

  • 1 1/2 quarts half and half
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ricotta Filling

  • 1 (32-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Lasagna

  • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella, divided
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan, divided

For turkey Bolognese:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add turkey, onion, and garlic and sauté, breaking up turkey, until turkey is cooked through.
  2. Drain any grease from pan and add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
  3. Use water to rinse tomato can and add to pan, stirring well. Add sugar, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper, stirring well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer 30 minutes, covered, stirring often.

For Alfredo sauce:

  1. Combine half and half and garlic in a large saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil.
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in water; whisk cornstarch mixture into boiling half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer mixture 3 minutes, whisking frequently. Stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

For ricotta filling:

  1. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir until well combined.

For lasagna:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Ladle half of Alfredo sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch glass-baking dish. Top with 3 lasagna sheets. (Pasta will expand to cover filling.)
  3. Ladle half of turkey Bolognese on top. Top with 3 lasagna sheets. Gently spread half of ricotta filling over lasagna sheets and top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Top with 3 lasagna sheets.
  4. Top with remaining Bolognese and 3 more lasagna sheets. Spread with remaining ricotta mixture and top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
  5. Top with 3 lasagna sheets, remaining Alfredo sauce, and shredded Parmesan.
  6. Wrap pan tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil.
  7. Bake 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more. Let rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.
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2 responses to “Disney at Home: Lasagna Bolognese from Trattoria al Forno

  1. That has to be one of the weirdest recipes for Alfredo Sauce I’ve ever seen. I think they’ve added the cornstarch & water to make the sauce stable enough to use in the recipe. Normally, when making “real” Alfredo Sauce it’s meant to be consumed immediately, other wise the consistency of the sauce gets screwed up. If you make the lasagna again, you may want to substitute a Bechamel sauce instead. (You can google the recipe – there’s tons of them out there.) There’s tons of lasagna recipes out there that use this sauce in their preparation. It’s also fairly typical in a Lasagna Bolognese.

  2. The cornstarch is the thickening agent/stabilizer you’d normally find in jarred Alfredo sauces. For an at-home recipe, it’s seems like it’s just a shortcut instead of thickening with butter, additional cheese, and/or time, which I’d be more apt to try in the future. While typically the dish may use bechamel in other recipes found online, Matt liked the flavor the garlicky Alfredo sauce imparted on this particular recipe. But just like this entire recipe, every component going into this dish has their own endless variations: Bolognese, Alfredo sauce, ricotta filling, all the way down to how it’s assembled! 🙂