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Monday, 22 November 2010

Lasagne

Sometimes I even have to cater to the husband's request for comfort food ;-) Today was one of those days, and he loves lasagne so I decided to whip one up. It helped that it was -34 degrees outside and I wasn't about to leave the warmth og the kitchen! Lasagnes are fairly easy to make, and the nice thing is you can whizz around and clean the kitchen when they're baking, so you have a delicious dinner and a clean kitchen.

I normally make my own pasta for this recipe, but I was out of 00 flour, so ended up using a frozen batch of lasagne sheets from the Italian Centre. I love fresh pasta, and prefer it to dried, but you can use dried lasagne sheets as well. Just cook them to package instructions before layering. Or you can use precooked lasagne noodles that cook in the oven and do not need pre-boiling.

This lasagne is from a very basic recipe, adapted from the Best of Bridge. I make mine a vegetarian one, but you can just as easily make it with minced/ ground beef or lamb. All you have to do is brown the meat with the onions and garlic first. This sauce can also be used on top of other pasta, or even in a chili if you wish.

The finished dish freezes very well, uncooked. Just assemble, put in the fridge to go completely cold, then cover and freeze. To cook from frozen, first defrost a bit. Then pop the dish into an oven that has not been preheated, starting the cook time from when the oven preheats. This way the dish will be heated and cooked all the way through and you won't have a still frozen middle.

We had ours with broccoli, salad, a chunk of French bread and a glass of red wine! Yummy!

Recipe:
(Printable Recipe)

For the meat/ veggie sauce:

1 onion, diced
2 flakes of garlic, minced
Around 250 - 300g Yves vegetarian ground round, quorn mince, or ground (minced) beef
1 red pepper, diced
About 8 - 10 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tin of diced tomatoes (roughly 400g)
500 ml tomato passata (or tomato pasta sauce)
3 - 4 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil)
2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp fresh chopped)
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
3 tbsp Worcester sauce
100ml red wine (optional)
Around 1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

You may need: 2 tsp cornflour, mixed in with a little water.

For the lasagne:

Depending on the size of your baking pan, 8 - 10 lasagne sheets, trimmed (cooked acording to package directions, if needed)

300g mozarella cheese, sliced
500g ricotta or cottage cheese, beaten to a creamy consistency
Handful chopped fresh chives (optional)
About 250g grated parmesan cheese

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a pan, and brown the onion, garlic and veggie or meat mince for roughly 5 - 6 minutes (or until the meat is cooked) . Add the mushrooms and red pepper and fry for around 3 minutes more.

Add the red wine (if using), Worcester sauce, all the tomato bits and bobs, the basil, oregano and garlic powder (if using). Stir together well, and season with the salt and pepper to your taste. Simmer for roughly 30 minutes to an hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

If the sauce is too watery, add the cornflour mixture and stir until the sauce thickens.

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).

Assemble the lasagne. First, layer the tomato/ meat/ veggie sauce in a deep baking dish. Top with a layer of pasta. Then gently layer the creamy ricotta on top of it. Sprinkle over a handful of snipped chives. Then put half the sliced mozarella cheese. Sauce, pasta, ricotta, chives, mozarella again. Repeat the layers until everything is used up. For the final two layers, use the pasta sheets, then the tomato sauce. Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes, until the pasta is cooked, and you can just see the sauce bubbling underneath.

Take out from the oven, and let the lasagne rest for about 30 minutes. This will help firm up the layers, so when you cut into it you get nice neat layers instead of a gooey mess (which is pretty good too!!).

Serve with a salad, veggies and bread. Goes very well with a lovely red wine :-)

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