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31 Jan 2016

Lasagne; classic and pesto #tocookbefore24

Some lasagne fun for you on this rainy Sunday!

Lasagne is a great go-to dish when you want to make an effort for guests but don't have a lot of time (Mama definitely taught me this over the years). It can be made in advance and frozen, always looks impressive when it emerges out of the oven all golden and bubbling, and I have yet to find anyone who dislikes it. Basically, it's a good classic to know! Lasagne is all about the sauces which can seem a bit intimidating at first, but once I'd mastered both the white and the tomato, it was simply just a case of layering everything up - which is a lot of fun!

I also wanted to find a decent vegetarian lasagne, one that didn't involve substituting aubergine for the meat (whhyyyy do you do this?! WHY?) and I found this gorgeous pesto lasagne with a creamy pesto and mascarpone sauce and crunchy pine nuts on top. It's seriously diviiiiine.

Go, go go!

For a classic meat lasagne, you will need (serves 4): 

450g beef mince
150ml beef stock
Approximately 9-12 lasagne sheets
Large handful of grated cheddar cheese

For the tomato sauce:
1 onion
1 pepper
2 garlic gloves
2 tablespoon tomato puree
2 400g chopped tomatoes
Handful of basil leaves

For the white sauce:
75g butter
70g plain flour
450ml milk

Tomato sauce

Chop the onion, pepper and finely chop the garlic cloves. Cook in oil over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until soft.

Stir in the tomato puree and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

White sauce

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then stir in the flour.

Slowly whisk in the milk and then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and then cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Have a faith; it looks a bit lumpy and unappetising for a while, but it gets there!

All together now 

Heat some oil in a frying pan and then cook the meat until it has browned.

Pour over the stock and tomato sauce, stir together, bring to the boil and then simmer for half an hour.

Spoon a third of the meat/tomato sauce into an oven-proof dish. Cover with a layer of the lasagne sheets.

Cover the lasagne sheets with some of the white sauce.

Repeat until you have 3 layers. Finish with a layer of the white sauce, making sure all of the pasta sheets are covered, and cover with your grated cheese.

Bake at 180c for 40-45 minutes until golden and bubbling.

And now for the veggie version!

For vegetarian pesto lasagne, you will need (serves 2-3):

1 190g jar basil pesto (recipe for home made here)
300g mascarpone
150g spinach
100g frozen peas
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried mint
Handful of cheddar cheese
50g pine nuts
9 lasagne sheets
50ml milk

Place the pesto, two thirds of the mascarpone and the 150ml water into a pan. Heat and mix until smooth and bubbling.

Add the spinach and peas and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the basil and mint.

Place a third of the mixture into a baking dish. Cover with pasta sheets and continue until there are 3 layers. Finish on a layer of pasta. The mixture will seem quite runny but don't worry!

Mix the milk and remaining mascarpone together and then pour over the top. Cover with the cheese and pine nuts.

Bake at 180c for 30-40 minutes, until golden and bubbling.


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