The Game-Changing Ingredient To Add To Your Lasagna Bolognese

Like many Italian recipes, lasagna has gone through its own evolution. The very first lasagna Bolognese recipe was baked layers of ragù sauce, béchamel, square pasta noodles made from flour, egg, and spinach, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese decorated the top of the assembled dish (via Italy Magazine). It wasn't until the 1880s that tomato was added to the list of ingredients. Since then, multiple variations of the recipe have emerged.

You may also be surprised by the fact that the original lasagna recipe from Bologna did not contain mozzarella; this, too, became a variant, straying from the original, simple ingredients (per Recipes from Italy). And while only a few plates of food can be as comforting as that fresh-out-of-the-oven steaming piece of lasagna (we suggest taking this sausage-ricotta lasagna recipe for a spin), we have an ingredient that will elevate even the most basic recipes. Only a few drops of this unexpected condiment will leave hungry guests asking for more. 

Worcestershire sauce adds a touch of umami

Although you may typically use Worcestershire sauce when marinating meat or making Caesar salad dressing (via Love Food), we have another use for this versatile condiment. While you're making classic lasagna Bolognese, recipe developer Ting Dalton recommends adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce to the mix. 

Dalton describes her lasagna Bolognese recipe as a simple combination of: "beef mince, pork mince, celery, carrot, garlic, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf, Italian seasoning — a splash of Worcestershire sauce (my special ingredient) and béchamel sauce. Topped with parmesan and cheddar cheese."

Worcestershire sauce delivers not only a flavorful umami element from the anchovies, but also delivers a sweet-sour combination due to the combination of vinegar, tamarind, and molasses (via MasterClass). Since this sauce is a concentrated condiment with a complex flavor, add only a few dashes at a time and taste as you go to balance the flavors in your simmering pot.

If you can't seem to find this flavorful condiment in your pantry, we have a list of the absolute best Worcestershire sauce substitutes that you can consider adding instead. As the vegetables and meat for your bolognese sauce simmer on the stove, a savory touch like soy sauce or balsamic vinegar can be the unexpected ingredient that brings an irresistible bite to your meal. Baking lasagna from scratch can be quite an effort, but taking matters into your own hands will result in unique flavor profiles that can't be bought from a store.