Sunday, 10 July 2011


Lasagne is one of my all time favourites. Contrary to popular belief, this supposedly Italian dish is actually a British invention. Some time in the dim and distant past, my ancestors* came up with the idea of layering sheets of pasta with meat and white sauce.

*Okay, not my direct ancestors**


My recipe uses minced beef. Veggies, or indeed non-veggies, may like to use soya mince, Quorn mince or just vegetables instead.

I'll hold my hands up now, and say I used packet lasagne sheets. But the rest is homemade. It can be quick to throw together, but the meat sauce benefits from pre-cooking, which puts people off. The sauce can, however, be made in advance.

The Béchamel must be fresh.

For the meat sauce (which serves 2) you will need:

Minced beef - I used 100g of frozen
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, but crushed will do
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Tomato purée
Baby plum tomatoes, cut into eighths
Black olives, chopped into quarters

You may also use mushrooms, if you are that way inclined. I'm not. Similarly, you can leave out the additional toms, olives and corn.

Heat some olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and soften for at least 5 minutes.
Add the mince, and brown. You might need to turn the heat up, but  be careful not to burn the ingredients.

If you are using soya mince, or Quorn, you won't need to brown it, and can move to the next stage.
Add the tomato purée; I would actually add more, a good 3 heaped dessert spoons from a jar, but I only had few measly squirts from a tube.
Add the remaining ingredients, and leave to simmer until any water has reduced. The key to having defined layers is a nice thick meat sauce.
Make a White Sauce; add fresh, ground nutmeg to the sauce, and it adds a new dimension to your lasagne. Seriously.

Assemble the lasagne. I wanted lots of layers, so constructed it in the middle of an oven-proof dish.

Top with grated parmesan, or if you've forgotten to buy some, ahem, grated cheddar will do.

I baked mine in the oven for 20 minutes at 190°C, as I like my pasta slightly al dente. Leave it stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. This again helps to keep the separate layers.

Enjoy with a glass of Valpolicella!

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