Thursday, 21 November 2013

(Kinda) Homemade Lasagne

Hey Chummers,

So tonight I thought I would post a winter warmer of a recipe that is pretty easy whilst can also make you feel quite cheffy and like you have actually cooked something.  And it's yum!

Lasagne, yum yum yum! For this recipe I have used beef mince but you could use quorn or any other type of mince (think lamb would be a bit weird though, I am perhaps biased because I can't stand lamb.)

First up, I chopped up an onion, about 4 garlic cloves, some celery (bleurgh!) and grated some carrot. You can add peppers, courgette and any other veg you fancy really.

I put a wee glug of olive oil into a pan and put the pan on medium/high heat.  I then added the onions and celery and cooked them for a few minutes until they started to soften. Then I added the garlic and the carrot and again, left them to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally so that things didn't start burning.

I then added the mince and let that cook through (known as browning it as the mince will go from pink to brown when cooked).   

Once the mince was suitably browned, I added a beef stock cube crumbled over the top and stirred it all in.  After that, I added a glug of red wine, a sprinkle of oregano and then after a minute or two, I added a good squirt of tomato puree and a tin of chopped tomatoes.

I never used to cook with wine, in fact, the very thought of having wine in my food would have really put me off but it definitely adds lots to the flavour of a dish.  The trick is to put the wine in before the rest of the 'wet' ingredients so that the alcohol can burn off a little (don't worry, that doesn't mean there should be flames!!)

Tomato puree is a handy ingredient to have in your cupboard and if you have an ice cube tray, it doesn't have to go to waste either.  I find the tubes of puree burst easily and so I pop the remainder into an ice cube tray and then you have handy little portions that you can just throw in your pan.

These were the last of the tomatoes off of our little tomato plant and so I just quartered them and popped them in the pan too.  I love cherry tomatoes, I can sit and eat them like most people would eat grapes or minstrels! Lastly, once everything else is in the pan, add a bay leaf or two.

I cheated with the white sauce! Shame on me, I know.  Usually I would make my own sauce but time was of the essence when I made this.  I use fried lasagne sheets but fresh ones are good too, or you could even make your own but you would need a pasta machine etc.  I grated some cheddar and got a small amount of parmesan cheese (just a smidge though as too much can make your sauce taste a bit sicky!)

Now onto the construction...
I layer in the bolognese type mixture *REMEMBER TO REMOVE THE BAYLEAF*.
The longer you can leaf the bolognese mix simmering on a low heat, the better, especially if you are using quorn mince.  

Layer on your pasta sheets

Then spread some of the white sauce across the pasta sheets and top with a sprinkling of parmesan and a handful of cheddar. 
Keep building it up with bolognese, pasta and white sauce until you have almost reached the top of the dish and then your done.  You don't want it too close to the edge because then it may bubble over and make a mess of your oven.  
Top it off with a couple of handfuls of cheddar and another small sprinkling of parmesan.

Cook for about 30-40 mins or until it is golden brown at a temperature of about 180 degrees C.

It may look a bit like a dogs dinner but it tastes yummy, the cheese is all melty, the white sauce is gooey and the bolognese has the flavour of the oregano and bay leaves to give it a herby edge.

Several things to note;

  • I don't tend to measure ingredients for dishes like this, I just go with the flow
  • you don't have to put wine in it
  • I usually put black pepper in to season but never usually use salt, beef mince can be quite salty as it is.

Let me know if you give this a try, it's great for a winter night with some salad and some garlic bread.  To make the salad a bit more exciting you could add some toasted pine nut over the top.

Whats your favourite winter comfort dish?