Lovely Lasagne is so adaptable suiting families, couples and singles, it can be made in advance and sit waiting to be cooked in the fridge to serve piping hot on a chilly Winter’s eve and is equally ‘at home’ being cooked, portioned up and frozen as individual ‘ready meals’ for a quick mid-week feast too.
1 box of pre-cooked sheets of lasagne
Dollop of butter to grease overproof dish
For the bolognese sauce
1 onion, peeled and chopped
750g lean minced beef (or meat-free substitute)
8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
300ml vegetable or beef stock
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, sliced and crushed
2 tsp of dried basil
1/4 tsp of bouquet garni
3-4 drops of Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper
For the béchamel sauce
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
350ml milk (any kind)
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
45g extra mature cheddar cheese or Parmesan, grated
- Using the dollop of butter, lightly grease an ovenproof dish.
Dawn: I’m using roughly a 4 pints dish which is about 2.3 litres in size. If you don’t have one of these, use smaller dishes, cooking them together in the oven.
- Start with making the bolognese sauce: put the onion into a large frying pan and cook in water until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Add the beef and stir the mixture until the meat is browned.
Dawn: You will need to break up the mince beef as it comes rather compact and by breaking it up will aid the browning process.
Andrew: Yes, and it’s worth pointing out that a meat-free substitute tastes equally as scrumptious as the herbs and other ingredients infuse together making a lovely flavour.
- Next, add the can of chopped tomatoes and sun dried ones along with the Tabasco sauce, dried basil, bouquet garni and stir all the ingredients together.
Andrew: I add sliced mushrooms at this point, too, Dawn.
Dawn: I would, too – if I had them to hand! You can also add diced carrot to bulk out the dish, if you wish. At the moment, my fridge has neither so I’m adding what I do have and that’s sun dried tomatoes.
Andrew: Good point, Dawn. Basically, use what’s at hand rather than make a special trip to the shops to buy an ingredient.
Dawn: Absolutely, Andrew. Sliced and diced courgette is another good ingredient to add as a substitute to mushrooms.
- Bring the ingredients to the boil and then simmer for about 25 minutes.
- At this stage, taste and season with salt and pepper to individual preference.
- Next, make the sauce that sits at each layer of the lasagne by putting the onion, bay leaf and pepper corns in the 350ml of milk and placing over a medium heat, bring almost to the boil and then set aside. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes to allow the ingredients to infuse into the milk.
- Next, melt the 25g of butter in a saucepan and when melted, added the flour stirring the mixture until the two ingredients have combined together.
- Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
Andrew: Having first sieved the milk to ensure the additional ingredients don’t make it through! Do you know that pasta simply means dough in Italian, Dawn?
Dawn: No, I didn’t. Another interesting fact!
Andrew: And, the facts don’t stop there! There are over 500 different varieties of pasta throughout Italy today with only about 50 widely known.
Dawn: Another very interesting fact. I do know that pasta comes either fresh or dried with the best commercially produced dried pasta being made from 100% hard durum wheat. Although a carbohydrate, some good quality pastas can contain a percentage of protein and it’s worth remembering that wholemeal pasta helps make us feel fuller for longer.
- Put the saucepan back on the heat stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and has a silky smooth finish to it.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 180 °C electric.
- Spoon 1/3rd of the bolognese sauce into the overproof dish and cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. To this, then pour 1/3rd of the béchamel sauce.
- Repeat these layers twice more.
- Finish with a layer of béchamel sauce and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
- Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 45-50minutes or until the cheese is bubbling away and the top has turned to a nice golden to medium tone of brown.
- Serve with a mixed salad.
Dawn: Or serve with a ‘healthier’ version of potato wedges which we’ll be sharing with you soon.
Andrew: Mmm…sounds like a real Winter treat!
For tasty, easy and inexpensive dishes and meals that won’t break the bank, follow the Cooking Duo’s blog here and our Twitter account @Love_Food_UK and see you all soon!