LASAGNA

Lasagna is a wonderful and familiar classic dish and my favourite since I was a girl – I still love to make it every year for my birthday to share with family and friends over dinner. It is the ultimate comfort food with delicious layers of pasta, creamy béchamel, tomato sauce and 2 different types of cheese – the traditional Italian recipe does not contain any mozzarella, but I like to add it for extra flavour. I usually replace regular pasta with the wholegrain version for the higher amount of natural fibre and micronutrients.

This recipe is mostly made from scratch, so it is more time consuming than most of my recipes, but the results are worth the effort. I usually prepare this a day in advance and pop in into the oven 30 minutes before my guests arrive. I serve this with a simple but delicious salad to balance the richness of the sauce.

 

SIMONE’S LASAGNE

(serves 8)

INGREDIENTS:

For the ragù:
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium size onion, chopped
• 1 celery stick, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 carrot, grated
• 500 g free-range beef mince
• 2 tbsp tomato pure
• 400 g Passata
• 300 g chopped tomatoes (1tin)
• 100 ml beef stock
• Salt and pepper, to season

For béchamel sauce:
• 4 tbsp butter
• 3 tbsp white flour
• 650 ml whole fat milk
• salt
• 25 g parmesan cheese, grated
• freshly grated nutmeg

To assemble:
• 250 g wholegrain lasagna sheets
• 100 g mozzarella, grated
• 10 g parmesan cheese, grated

METHOD:

• Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large size pan over a medium heat and add the onion, celery, garlic, and carrot.
• Fry for around 6 minutes until softened and add the beef.
• Cook until golden brown, breaking up the mince with a spoon and stirring frequently.
• Add the tomato puree, passata, chopped tomatoes and the beef stock.
• Mix well until all the ingredients are combined and simmer gently over the medium heat for around 40 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
• Season with salt and black pepper. Set on the side.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C.
• Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel sauce.
• In a medium size pot, melt the butter add the flour and whisk constantly for around 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly for around 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
• Remove from the heat, add the parmesan cheese and grated nutmeg.
• Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta sheets and cook for 7 minutes.
• To assemble the lasagna, prepare a deep baking dish and coat the bottom with 200 g of meat sauce, then cover it with lasagna sheets. Layer with more of the ragù, the béchamel sauce and 30 g of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with two more layers and finish with remaining meat sauce and béchamel sauce over the last layer and top with the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan.
• Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy on the top.
• Remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
• Enjoy.

SERVED WITH MIXED LEAF SALAD AND LEMON DRESSING

(serves 8)

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium size onion, chopped
• 1 celery stick, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 carrot, grated
• 500 g free-range beef mince
• 2 tbsp tomato pure