Lasagne is one of these things that is satisfying to make and soothing to eat. The base is a rich tomatoey sauce with minced beef and italian herbs, layered with pasta sheets and a cheesy, nutmegy white sauce on the top. Serve with a crisp side salad and some garlic bread?and a glass of chilled Sauvingon Blanc.
For the Tomato Sauce
- Minced beef (it doesn’t really matter if you use 500g, 750g or a 1kg or any other amount. It’s very much a very adaptable recipe. If you have less mince you’ll use less tomatoes or passatta, and if you use more you’ll need more but it’s fine either way)?
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped, or a good shaking of frozen diced or sliced onion.
- 1 tablespoonful of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely crushed (optional)
- 1 small packet of smoked bacon lardons or diced pancetta (optional)?
- 1 bottle of passatta (or 1 or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes depending how much mince you’re using)
- Handful of button mushrooms, wiped with kitchen towel and sliced (optional)
- 2 couple of sticks of celery, washed and finely chopped (optional)
- Glass of wine (red or white are fine)
- Dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil or some spicy italian seasoning (it’s like a pre-blend you can get from the same shelf as the dried herbs and spices)?
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Beef Stock cube (optional)?
- Worcester Sauce (optional)?
- Squirt of tomato purree (optional)?
- Fresh Basil?
? ? ? ? One box of no-need-to-pre-cook lasagne sheets (you won’t need the whole box)?
For the White sauce
- 2 tablespoonsful of plain flour
- 2 tablespoonsful of butter or margarine (make sure it’s NOT low fat as it will just turn to water!)?
- White Pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Grated strong cheddar cheese (use either white or red, depending? what you prefer)
- Paprika (optional)?
To serve: A little grated parmesan cheese or grano padamo cheese and some freshly ground black pepper
Put the olive oil into a large saucepan and heat gently over a medium heat. Add the pancetta, onions, mushrooms and celery if using and stir gently until the onions go glossy and golden looking.
Add in the mince and stir until it’s all nicely browned, add the garlic and stir
Once the mince is browned all over add a shaking of herbs into the mince mix and stir again.
Add the tomato puree and wine if using and then add the passatta or chopped tomatoes and stir. It needs to almost cover the mince (but not completely cover it) If you’re using a stock cube add that in too and stir.
Add a shake of worcester sauce if liked, stir in.
Cook over a lowish heat whilst you make the white sauce
To make the White Sauce
In a separate pan gently melt the butter and stir in the plain flour. Add salt and pepper. When it looks like a paste let it continue cooking for another couple of minutes and then slowly add some milk to the pan, and stir using a fork or a balloon whisk. Keep adding a little milk to the pan until it looks about the right amount. Keep stirring until it starts to thicken. Once it starts to thicken take it off the heat, add some grated nutmeg,. Taste it to see if it tastes ok (if it needs more salt, pepper or nutmeg stir a little more in)
Stir in some grated cheese and taste again.
Take off the heat and turn the heat off the meat sauce too.
Assemble the Lasagne
Layer the lasagne up in an ovenproof dish. Start with a layer of meat sauce, then lasagne sheets then white sauce, ending with a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle with cheese, a little paprika and oregano if you have some. Add a scattering of fresh basil leaves if liked.
Bake in the oven at about gas Mark 4, 180oC for 45 mins to an hour until the top is bubbling and the lasagne is cooked and soft.
What to do with leftovers
Lasagne freezes well. I move any leftovers to a different smaller, dish and wrap well with cling film or foil and freeze for up to one month
Alternatively reheat the next day for lunch by either microwaving or by covering in foil and popping back in the oven until piping hot