It’s always useful to have a few recipes that you know by heart. Most of our moms probably cook everything without measurements of any kind. The basic meat sauce recipe is a good one to start with. Apart from the classic beef lasagna, you could use it with Spaghetti for your classic Spag Bol. You could layer it with eggplants to make a Moussaka (One of my favourites, by the way), you could even make a meat pie out of it. Don’t be afraid to change it up and experiment with different spices too. I love to add whatever vegetables I have to bulk it up.
When it comes to lasagna, there are hundreds of way of making this. Some people prefer to finish with the meat sauce on top, some opt for a white sauce (Béchamel) instead, you could use all sorts of different cheeses. The vegetarian version is delicious too. Each time I cook the lasagna differently depending on what I have. If I had an Italian grandma she probably won’t be pleased with me. But I don’t have one. So. Off we go with the recipe!
Beef and Vegetables Lasagna Recipe:
400g Ground lean beef
1 carrot, grated
1 celery stick diced finely
1 red capsicum, diced finely
100g Swiss Brown Mushrooms, roughly chopped
100g Baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 onion diced finely
2-3 cloves of garlic diced finely
1 canned tomato
half a cup tomato paste
100ml Sherry (or Red wine)
300ml vegetable stock
smoked paprika, about a teaspoon
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
First heat up olive oil in heavy pan, add onion and garlic, cook until onion becomes translucent, and then add carrot and celery to cook for 2 minutes, followed by Red capsicum and Mushrooms.
Deglaze the pan with the wine, then add the canned tomato, tomato paste and stock. Sprinkle paprika and cayenne pepper all over. Add bay leave. I’ve ran out of fresh herbs so I didn’t use any this time. Didn’t matter, the flavours of the fresh veges with beef were enough. Let this cook and simmer until the sauce all came together. This will take about 1 hour or more.
Add the spinach for the last few minutes. If the sauce starts to get too dry don’t be scared to add some water. Season and taste. I often find that I don’t have to add any salt due to the sodium content in other ingredients especially the stock.
You need about 50g of butter, melt that in a pan, add about half a cup of plain flour, whisking as you go, let it cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly add about 600ml of milk, whisking constantly. The sauce should be only slightly thick, of pourable consistency. When everything’s incorporated add a handful of Parmesan Cheese. Becareful not to burn the bottom! So set the heat around low-medium.
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Mozarella Cheese, shredded (Mix both together)
To assemble the lasagna, you need a big lasagna pan (usually 9″ x 13″). Preheat the Oven to 180 degree celsius and work away.
For lasagna sheets, I used fresh ones in this but I’ve also used dry ones and work the same. Needless to say the amount of sheets depends on how big the sheet is. I only needed 3 and half. Bear in mind the dry sheets expand when cooked so it’s ok if there’s a little bit of gaps in between each sheet.
Spread a layer of the meat sauce at the bottom, sprinkle a little bit of parmesan (or not) and lay the lasagna sheet on top, tearing the sheets to fit if need be. Repeat with 2 more layer of meat and lasagna sheets, ending with lasagna sheets on top. Then pour the Béchamel sauce all over the top and spread evenly. Tap the dish on the counter top a couple of times to even it out. Sprinkle with more cheese!
Bake in oven for about 30 mins or until the top becomes golden brown.
Make sure you rest it for about 15 minutes before you cut into it. That way the lasagna has time to set and it would also be easier to lift out the slices. We don’t want the meat sauce dripping everywhere….
To serve, use a knife to cut into several portions, making sure you also ease the sides, then use a flat spatula, carefully lift the slices up onto a plate. Drizzle with some Truffle oil.
And you know what’s better than a perfectly cooked Lasagna?
So what are the favourite recipes you know by heart?