Lasagne recipes

54 posts in this topic

Today's comfort food was lasagne, and I wish I hadn't made such a large pan because it's sitting there seductively whispering, "Eat me! You know you want to!"

 

Beginner cooks, this is easier than you think.

 

Ingredients

1 large onion

1 small green pepper

1 green chili

2 cloves garlic

2 cans pizza tomatoes

50g butter

30g flour

500ml milk

250g thawed frozen spinach

olive oil

spices

uncooked lasagne noodles

 

 

Tomato sauce

Dice a large onion and a small green pepper

Mince a green chili and two cloves of garlic

Sautée this all in olive oil

Add two small cans of pizza tomatoes

Season with tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, paprika, pepper and salt

Let simmer for at least half an hour, your sauce should look fairly chunky with a minimum of liquid

 

Roux

Heat 50g of butter until bubbly

Stir in 30g of flour

Remove the pan from the heat, add 500ml of milk, stirring it in bit by bit until the mixture is smooth and satiny and still fairly runny

Season with rosemary and nutmeg

 

Assemble

1 layer of lasagne noodles

Cover with tomato sauce, dribble some roux on it, smooth with a spatula, drop a few spoons of spinach on the mixture

Repeat twice (or three times, depending on the height of your pan), making sure that the last layer of noodles is completey covered with roux

Sprinkle grated cheese on the top

 

Cook in a preheated oven at 200°C for app. 30 - 40 minutes

 

For carnivores: Brown mincemeat in a frying pan, sprinkle it on the layers along with the spinach. I find that adding it to the tomato sauce makes the sauce too oily.

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It is easier than that!

 

Make a meat sauce and let cool down. The meat sauce is simply ground beef and spaghetti sauce.

Add to the cooled meat sauce ricotta, cottage cheese and a bit of parmesan.

 

Blanche the lasagna noodles in hot water. Basically cook them for one quarter of the time they really need. In other words, until they are pliable but no where near done.

 

Layer noodles with meat sauce (and cheese) about 2-3 times. Most traditional lasagnas have two layers of meat sauce and three layers of noodles.

 

Pack it down but good and add about 1/4 liter of water (should barely make it to the top). Bake at 375°F (about 178°C) until the water is almost gone.

 

From this basic build, you can do all kinds of things including adding spinach and what not to your meat sauce. If you add spinach, do it while you are making the layers. Nothing worse than overcooked spinach in a lasagna.

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And how was it?

This is what the two of us left for tomorrow, and Cat should get up early enough to share it. Absolutely delicious, soft, all the ingredients well-combined, all the flavors harmonized. Tastes like lots more.

 

post-4788-1233429517.jpg

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Right then,

 

Off we go with another Italian classic. Making this is a great way to learn several tecvhniques and cool words which impress people if you name drop two words which are involved in this recipe, namely "mirepoix" and "Bechamel". Although I make them in my sleep now a couple of years ago I hadn't a clue how to make them till I did a little internet research. No need here for any exact recipe, just wiki it I am sure there is enough actual detailed info out there. As usual I await the wise words of Obi Don Riina Kanobi here...

 

So we'll start with Cool Word One. Mirepoix. Arguably the heart of European if not French cuisine, this is simply onions, carrots and celery. Strictly speaking they should be in the weight proportion 2:1:1 so that means say two largish onions, a couple of carrots and about two stalks of celery. Get friendly with your local veg shop and you then only have to buy two stalks of celery at a time, rather than a whole bag of the stuff which inevitably ends up unused in the bottom of the fridge and in the bin. These three ingredients should be chopped finely then fried very gently in a largish pan. Drop in some salt to bring out the flavour too. Before he even adds it I am sure the Don will say fry it even longer but with ankle biters threatening to come in any minute we don't have that time. You can also btw buy "Süppengrün" as the Jerries call it - only it will be celeriac and leek, more fitting to the German climate.

 

Once that's sautéed nicely add a couple of tins of tomatoes. If it happens that you have a load of other stuff to go in then keep a few extra tins for emergencies. Once this has all melded nicely, if you are a carnivore a half kilo of mince will go in next. Good time to add either some red wine or balsamico, and some oregano maybe or somesuch pizza seasoning. This should simmer around 20 minutes. Switch on the oven round 200C.

 

Now prepare the fillings if you are veggie. In my last mix I had Swiss chard, zucchini/courgettes and I think mushrooms. Saute or steam them and add to the mix.

 

Time for Cool Word Two. Bechamel. Actually there's another word inside that, a Roux. Gather together "mise en place" (posh for everything to hand) butter, flour and milk. A Roux is made by melting butter in a pan, then adding a couple of spoons of flour to gently fry in the mix, this for beginners is easy to cock up (as I did) so takes practice. At the right time add milk, then mix up into a white sauce. Strictly a real Bechamel should be made by first infusing an onion and cloves in a pan first before it's added to the roux but I never have time. When this white sauce is simmering add a pack of grated cheese. 

 

Dig out sheets of lasagne, get the pan of tomatoey sauce plus veg mixed in, and bechamel. pour the tomatoey goo in the bottom, add sheets of lasagne then pour bechamel over that. repeat and top off with more grated cheese. In the oven half an hour and call "Essen" very loudly.

 

I could have added a picture of my last lasagne but I am afraid I've eaten it. Not very appealing a picture of a scoffed empty oven dish really.

 

Off we go. Any cool ideas for different flavour lasagne?

 

The great thing about lasagne is it contains techniques which build on others in cookery. Sauce Bechamel is one of the five mother sauces in French classic cuisine, several of which I've made, with varying degrees of success. Mirepoix is also an important base of many European recipes.

 

Below is a website which shows how Bechamel is made. Its a goldmine of useful information. 

 

http://freeculinarys...r-sauce-series/

 

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Sounds like the perfect Lasagne jeremy, I wouldn't change a thing on that one.

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Yes, it's right there in paragraph 3 - I actually read the whole post, well done me!

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nice job Jeremy, making me hungry here!

 

if you have the time, it is rewarding to make your lasagna sheets from fresh pasta.

You can make the simple kind (just flour and eggs) or you can add spinach to make 'pasta verde'.

 

It adds a nice flavor to the lasagna plus a nice color (the eye needs something to eat as well!)

 

and a little fresh olive oil over the top before serving...hmmmmmm

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I put some fresh basil on top on the meat layer before coving with the lasagne sheets.

 

also in the bechamel, for the roux I use oil rather that butter and use half milk and half vegetable stock....

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I am one of those people that don't really like lasagna made with bechamel sauce. I prefer a layer of ricotta cheese in the middle.

 

I make my meat sauce, then alternate layers of sauce & pasta, throw some cheese on top of each layer (mozzerelly, romano, parmesan, whatever you like) and put the ricotta cheese mixed with 2 eggs and some chives in about half way through, and then keep layering. I usually have about 5 layers of pasta with sauce and cheese in between each of them. Top with sauce and some fresh grated parmesan and bake.

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Re. Bechamel: you need a bayleaf to infuse in the sauce, and a few twists of *white* pepper. If the bayleaf ends up in the finished dish, no biggie.

 

Re. Grated Cheese: any old grated cheese WILL NOT do. You need a good Cheddar or equivalent; if you use German-style grated pizza cheese or the ubiquitous packets of grated Emmental, you will end up with a rubbery-gooey blob, something akin to an Aligot and totally unsuited to a Lasagne.

 

K

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Strictly a real Bechamel should be made by first infusing an onion and cloves in a pan first before it's added to the roux but I never have time.

Yes you do, young man, yes you do. Just whack the milk on to warm whilst you are chopping veg for the ragu, and chuck some stuff into it to infuse. If you wanna stick to posh french terms, make an "oignon cloute" (accent on the last "e", cannot be arsed to find out how to get it on my keyboard) It is a peeled onion, with bayleaves pinned to it with cloves. Dump that in the milk, bring it up to heat, turn it off, lid on, cover and leave for 'alf an 'our, then remove. No salt yet, wait until you are finishing the bechamel, then season. Black pepper looks shite in a white sauce, so as Kuzzer says, white pepper all the way.

 

Also, do as your recipe books say - warm the milk as you make the roux, and add it a little bit at a time at first to get it all properly incorporated. EVeryone, me included, is lazy and just wants to chuck all the milk in at once, or cannot be arsed to warm the milk - but it is false economics for the lazy man, because you'll spend 4 times as long working the whisk to get the mups out, until your arm feels like you have just watched 5 hours of Gabrielle Anwar videos...

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if you have the time, it is rewarding to make your lasagna sheets from fresh pasta.

You can make the simple kind (just flour and eggs) or you can add spinach to make 'pasta verde'.

 

I did in fact have a crack at pasta a few weeks ago using that 405 generic stuff. Apart from pizza bases and aforesaid bechamel I have come to the conclusion that German plain flour is pretty useless. Can't do an awful lot with it. I just bought some "Hartweizengriess" and will have a crack with that. Honestly shopping in German supermarkets is like...in fact to date I am unwaware that the quality of German supermarkets has ever been discussed on Toytown.

 

 

I put some fresh basil on top on the meat layer before coving with the lasagne sheets.

 

also in the bechamel, for the roux I use oil rather that butter and use half milk and half vegetable stock....

 

Veg stock? In a bechamel? Sacrilige! Then its a sort of veloute without any chicken in it. Sort of a "Beloute"! :)

 

 

Yes you do, young man, yes you do. Just whack the milk on to warm whilst you are chopping veg for the ragu, and chuck some stuff into it to infuse. If you wanna stick to posh french terms, make an "oignon cloute" (accent on the last "e", cannot be arsed to find out how to get it on my keyboard) It is a peeled onion, with bayleaves pinned to it with cloves. Dump that in the milk, bring it up to heat, turn it off, lid on, cover and leave for 'alf an 'our, then remove.

 

Also, do as your recipe books say - warm the milk as you make the roux, and add it a little bit at a time at first to get it all properly incorporated. EVeryone, me included, is lazy and just wants to chuck all the milk in at once, or cannot be arsed to warm the milk - but it is false economics for the lazy man, because you'll spend 4 times as long working the whisk to get the mups out, until your arm feels like you have just watched 5 hours of Gabrielle Anwar videos...

 

Whole onion Don? Pin the bays onto it with the cloves? Cool idea. And the idea of warming the milk at the beginning is a cool improvement on my timeline - how much to warm up? I've always done it from cold, without exact amounts. These days I cook by eye unless I am trying a new recipe, as I am tonight (a risotto). And you are right about the amount of hand whisking. My right arm is enlarged, yet in my case I could be accused of watching those Bettany Hughes history documentaries on C4. Jeez she is lovely.

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These days I cook by eye unless I am trying a new recipe, as I am tonight (a risotto)

Nooooooooo! If there is any dish that needs to be cooked by eye, freestyle riina-styley, risotto is a strong candidate. No way a recipe can tell you how much liquid you'll need. Pan size, stove heat...very variable factors.

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Don, it's lasagna. My goodness, I've never seen you so passionate on a subject. Two posts and on the same page no less.

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