Mamma Mia!!! I cannot understand where the time has gone if I’m honest- I mean, to think that it is May already, the mind boggles 😮. I only just started this blog a few weeks ago but look how far I’ve come…
In retrospect, a lot has changed over the years including the way I eat and perceive food. In the words of American chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller, “A recipe has no soul, you as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.”
Being from the nation that consumes more ready meals than the whole of Europe combined, I have to say that I too, am not partial to a ready meal once in a blue moon, particularly a chicken and mushroom pie
(preferably with mash) or my favourite choice: lasagna.
NB: In an effort to not lose my fellow Italian readers, I apologise in advance, because I suspect that you are shaking your heads in pure disgust at the lack of authenticity of your typical frozen lasagna. But hey, I like what I like lol. However, I think you’d be happy to know, having had my fair share of them, it prompted the following questions, such as, could I not make this myself? And if so, could I do it better? Surely it was possible, right?
I chose to go authentic and traditional, largely influenced by South-Central Italy, and added ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) and ragù alla bolognese (Bolognese sauce). I have to confess that there was a little debacle with the lasagna sheets as some were stuck together but it worked out in the end and as expected made for a comforting and enjoyable dinner. In hindsight, my tips would be to boil the lasagna sheets in batches and when they are ready place them upright against the sides of the pot and that should make things easier.
Lasagna with ragù alla bolognese
600g lean ground beef
600g lasagna sheets
3 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
800g tinned tomatoes
70g tomato paste
3 tbsp water
350g cremini/white button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp dried basil
1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 maggi cube
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg, whole
500g ricotta cheese
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
100g mozzarella, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
In a saucepan, brown the ground beef and then add the onions, and garlic over medium flame. Season with sugar, chili powder, black pepper, basil, fennel seeds, parsley (1tbsp), oregano, thyme, rosemary and a maggi cube. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, their juice, tomato paste and water. Simmer, covered, for at least an hour, stirring on occasion.
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Cook the lasagna sheets in batches for 8 to 10 minutes. Position against the sides of the saucepan, drain, and rinse with cold water. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Then in a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with an egg, 1/2 tbsp parsley, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Place 1/2 of the meat on the bottom of a baking tray, followed by a layer of lasagna sheets, then a layer of 1/2 the ricotta mixture and 1/2 the Parmesan cheese, another layer of meat, a layer of the remaining lasagna and lastly a layer of the remaining ricotta mixture, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella.
Cover with foil making sure that the foil does not touch the surface of the lasagna and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 18-20 minutes, or until golden.
Good luck guys 🙂