Sunday Night Lasagna

Sauce:
2 medium-size onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 pound ground pork or spiced turkey sausage
1 (2 1/2 pound) can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
12 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon finely-grated orange zest
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Bechamel Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, scalded
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

Ricotta Mixture:
3 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 lasagna noodles, cooked
2 cups (1/2 pound) grated mozzarella cheese

Sauce: Cook onions, peppers and garlic in olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until wilted and golden, stirring. Add meat in small clumps and brown well over medium heat, breaking it up with a fork. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours.

Bechamel Sauce: Melt butter in a heavy saucepan; whisk in flour. Cook over low heat, whisking, until fully blended, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Ricotta Mixture: Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper; stir well. Place 2 cups of the Sauce in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Over the noodles, spread half of the ricotta mixture, 2 cups Sauce and 1 cup Bechamel Sauce, then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat with remaining noodles and ricotta, 2 cups Sauce, remaining Bechamel sauce and mozzarella. There will be some Sauce left over.

Cover dish loosely with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove dish from oven and allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.