This lasagne recipe is delicious and well worth the wait. Although time-consuming, it’s relatively easy, and it makes enough for six adults with a salad.
Recently I asked both my daughters to choose a recipe they wanted to perfect before leaving home. Admittedly, it’s a little early to be thinking about that, seeing as they are only eight and ten years old, but I wanted to make sure they felt confident enough to cook for themselves and host friends for dinner by the time they moved out. The thought that they may cook once a week for our family in the interim is a definite hope too.
Beni, our eldest, chose her favourite dish: Lasagne. Despite warnings that it was a long recipe, she was keen and committed to the end. She’d made it three times since and was chuffed every time. Enjoy
Lasagne from scratch recipe
Step one: Bolognese sauce
- 1 Tb oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1kg lean mince
- 1 carrot very finely chopped or grated (optional)
- 1 celery stalk very finely chopped (optional)
- 2 Tb oregano
- 1 Tb fresh or dried herbs of choice (eg parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram)
- 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes (or Passata) My favourite brand is Polpa
- 1 jar of ready made bolognese sauce (total cheat but it adds richness to the sauce- add an extra tin of crushed tomatoes if you don’t want to add a ready-made sauce. I use one with no additives.
- 4 cloves garlic crushed (1Tb)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup water
Bolognese sauce method
- Heat a large saucepan to medium and fry the onion, carrot & celery (if using) in the oil until soft.
- Add garlic, herbs and salt and stir for 30 seconds before adding the mince. Cook mince until mince it browns.
- Add crushed tomatoes, water and wine (if using), then allow to simmer for 30-60 mins.* If too much liquid evaporates or it begins to catch on the bottom, turn down the heat and add a bit more water. Add fresh herbs at the last minute if using.
Step two: cheats bechamel sauce
- 80g salted butter
- 4 Tb plain flour
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- 5 cloves (optional)
- 5 peppercorns (optional)
- 1 garlic clove or slice of onion (optional)
- 5 parsley stalks or 1 celery stalk (optional)
- 1 Litre (4 cups) full cream milk
- Salt to taste
Cheats bechamel sauce method
- Melt butter with chosen aromatics and stir until melted and simmering.
- Add flour and stir with a whisk for 1 minute.
- Add milk one cup at a time and whisk until the sauce thickens.
- When all milk is incorporated and starts to simmer, take off the heat and allow to infuse until ready to use.*To make a traditional bechamel sauce simmer the milk with the aromatics first then slowly ladle the hot flavoured milk into the butter and flour mixture. Personally, I banned myself from doing it this way as the milk boiled over every time.
Step three: Lasagne assembly
- lasagne sheets
- 1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
- bolognese sauce
- bechamel sauce
- Preheat oven to 180oC
- Line a large oven tray with baking paper and pour 1/2 cup of bolognese sauce in the bottom to prevent it from sticking.
- Place one layer of lasagne sheets on top of the sauce, allowing a quarter to a third space for expansion if using dried lasagne sheets. (Fresh lasagne doesn’t expand or absorb as much liquid).
- Continue layering lasagne sheets and 1 cup of sauce until the final layer of bechamel sauce. Strain the aromatics out of the sauce with a sieve as you pour over the sauce. Alternatively, just pull them out with a fork.
- Top with cheese and bake for 40 minutes at 180oC
- Different sized trays, and different brands of lasagne sheets will affect the result of the lasagne cooking time and consistency. Play around with cooking time and if the lasagne is too dry, next time, add 1/2-1 cup water in the process of layering. I’ve been known to try my lasagne then add water and put it back in if it is too dry.
- Skip the simmer step if you are in a hurry. Simmering for 30-60 mins will just help to intensify the flavours and make the mince really tender.
- For a richer sauce, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste or swap one of the tins of tomatoes for a jar of ready-made spaghetti sauce.
- Buy premium mince if you can. So much fat comes out of budget mince that it’s not worth the ‘saving.’ You are getting more meat when you pay extra.
When making fresh lasagne, use: 4 eggs: 2 cups flour and leave on setting 3 when rolling out.