Everybody’s got a lasagne recipe
Even the shakiest of kitchen-phobes somewhere in the depths of their culinary cranium, have a lasagne recipe. I often hear people who aren’t the most confident of cooks, punctuate their anti-kitchen confessions with ‘But I do make a good lasagne!’
And I’m not mad at this. I think so long as you have one reliable recipe in your head, then why not bring it out at every opportunity?
Having said this, I don’t have the patience for a traditional lasagne. My nerves just can’t cope with it of an evening. Making a white sauce and a meat sauce, and the layering, and the oven etc – it genuinely is too much for me. But a good lasagne reminds me of my mam’s cooking – who had did a great lasagne that seemed to feed us for a whole week. In fact, just last week she visited my apartment with a Tupperware box of lasagne for me to feast on.
So in honour’s sake, I could not discard a lasagne in my armoury for the sake of my idleness. So I did some research.
Lasagne – which roughly translates to ‘mixed up’ – in all of its multi layered glory, has a multitude of variations in regional Italian cooking with ingredients that range from boiled eggs to spinach. However, modern day Italian kitchens – particularly those in Southern Central Italy – unified themselves with more contemporary ingredients such as mozzarella to revolutionise their traditional lasagnes. This approach is exactly what I love about cooking. Taking tradition and acclimating it to your own life.
Naturally there are certain steps that need to be adhered too – however the odd adjustment can easily make a meal your own.
Therefore I settled on this recipe, the slightly lazy cooks approach to a lasagne. It has the meaty depth and the gooey texture of a traditional lasagne in half the time and half the stress. It swaps a white sauce for a creamy, cheese mixture which you dollop in between layers, and the meat sauce is only a few quick ingredients and is super liquidy, which means, don’t dismay, I do not soak my dried lasagne sheets before I cook.
Serves PEOPLE. I have no idea how many. Depends how big your slices are, but I’d say 9? Maybe 12 with sides? I’ve often done just 2 with leftovers.
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic
500g beef mince
150ml red wine
2 x cans cherry tomatoes
500g lasagne sheets
2 x 125g mozzarella balls
50g goats cheese
100ml double cream
A grating of fresh nutmeg
Parmesan to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- Melt the butter on a medium heat in a large pan while you roughly chop the onion.
- Fling the onion into the pan with a little salt and grate in the garlic cloves. Cook them until the onions have softened, but the garlic hasn’t burnt.
- Crumble the beef mince in by hand and stir in, cooking for roughly 5 or 10 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, the cans of tomatoes and about a cup of water, stir and turn up the heat to bring everything to a bubble. Drop the heat slightly and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
- During this time, start pressing the cherry tomatoes with a spoon, squish them down to release their juices and break up the tomatoes. Don’t worry if the meat sauce is looking a bit liquidy, it’s meant to be.
- Grab a roasting pan, about 2 inches or so deep, and let’s get layering.
- First ladle in enough meat sauce to cover the bottom, it doesn’t matter if it’s mostly liquid. On top of this, add some lasagne sheets to cover the pan, pressing down on them gently so that some of the sauce sneaks upwards to the surface of the sheet.
- Add another – yet sparing – layer of meat sauce. Now tear up little pieces of mozzarella and little pieces of the goats cheese and sprinkle them over. Now dribble a few tablespoons of the cream over the cheeses and grate over a little fresh nutmeg.
- On top of this, add some more pasta sheets before layering on some more meat sauce, pushing down with your spoon or ladle to make the meat sauce plunge upwards and slightly cover the top layer.
- Repeat the same pattern – cheeses/cream/pasta sheets/meat sauce until you have used all of the meat sauce but the meat sauce should be the final layer otherwise your pasta sheets will burn,
- I say last, the last layer is actually an extra helping of torn up goats cheese on top, but basically your last layer of pasta sheets should be covered in meat sauce before the final cheese.
- Cover the tray in foil and slide in the hot oven for 50 minutes before removing the foil and returning to the oven for a further 15 until the top layer has scrunched up like a meaty Autumn leaf.
- Serve with liberally grated lashings of Parmesan to serve.