Sometimes, when it’s just the two of us, we just don’t feel like making any effort for Sunday dinner. This is when lasagne happens: easy to make, comforting, delicious… and even tastier the next day which can brighten a gloomy Monday! I know it’s oven-baked but in my books lasagne is just as good for cold winter nights as it is for summer late dinners.
I like to keep my lasagne simple and unfussy and let the white cheesy sauce speak for itself, this recipe is therefore very straight-forward. I like to think that it’s not too far from the original Italian recipe, but to be honest I have no idea: I’m just making it the way I saw my mum French-born-from-a-Spanish-mother do it… Let’s call it Mediterranean lasagne to be on the safe side and not offend any Italian friends 🙂
Oh… and I don’t make my own pasta. I never have, but it’s something I’ve had at the back of my mind for a while and will probably try some time soon.
For 6 servings, I use the below ingredients
- Sheets of pre-cooked lasagne pasta (the exact number of sheets changes from a dish to another, but it’s roughly 6-8)
FOR THE LASAGNE BASE
- 375 grams of minced beef
- 1 big white onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of tomato puree
- 1 glass (30ml) of red wine
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
- 50 grams of flour
- 50 grams of butter
- 600 ml of milk
- ground nutmeg
- ground pepper
- 60 grams of cheese, grated (I mix cheddar and parmesan, but I’m pretty sure my maman would have used grated gruyere and the Italians use only parmesan, so: to taste)
Pre-heat your oven to 200C. In the meantime, heat a little bit of olive oil in a hot and deep enough pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Place the mince in the pan and break it up completely. Season with a pinch of dried oregano (or/and bay leaf, rosemary, basil…) and the tomato puree. When the meat has started to brown, add the wine and tinned tomatoes and leave to simmer on a very gentle fire for 15-20 minutes.
You can then move on to making the white sauce. It is nothing more than a béchamel sauce with grated cheese (I love béchamel if I had no shame I’d probably eat it with a spoon straight out of the pan).
Start by making a roux: melt the butter in a pan then add the flour and stir to create a paste. On gentle heat pour the milk little by little on that paste, always stirring to prevent lumps. Once the mix is smooth, you can add a little bit more milk and so on. When your sauce has reached the wanted consistency (thick, creamy, smooth), season with freshly ground nutmeg and pepper (I love looooads of pepper in my béchamel), then add the grated cheese off the heat.
Now you can mount your lasagne: spoon half of the meat mix at the bottom of a buttered oven-proof dish, then place a layer of pasta on top (careful not to overlap your sheets or you pasta will be thick and tough – break into them if needed) and pour in half of the white sauce. Start again for the 2nd layer: meat, pasta, white sauce. Grate some more parmesan on top of it all and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
NB: sometimes, instead of grated parmesan, I like to place thin layers of mozzarella di buffala on top of the lasagne before baking. The added creaminess is to die for.