Isn’t pasta your favourite meal to cook? It is, after all, inexpensive, highly nutritious, extremely versatile and some versions like baked pasta are all the better for being made in advance as the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop.
I love any version of baked pasta. These are fantastic for taking to any potluck events or to welcome new neighbours. As versatile as these may be, one always wants to return to the classic Bolognese sauce lasagna every once in a while. In my version, I am using chicken as the meat source, you may used minced beef or pork if you like.
Veggies can easily be added to the Bolognese sauce and remain very well concealed (if that is your intention) in the scrumptious sauce that you are about to make. General vegetables that taste good in the Bolognese are celery, bell peppers and carrots. The Bolognese sauce can also be made, kept and stored for later use as a pasta sauce on a later date.
Some lasagna is made of only the alternate layering of the Bolognese sauce and cheese but I like to add an additional layer of the béchamel sauce for a criss-cross of the strong flavours that the Bolognese brings, you know, to tone it down a bit. Skip the béchamel if you wish. Even though I assure you it will take just about 15 minutes extra time off you.
• 450gms minced chicken
• 2 tbsp oilive oil
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 3 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
• 5 fresh tomatoes, pureed
• 1 tbsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp black pepper
• salt, according to taste
• a good sprinkle of any Italian seasoning (optional)
• ¼ cup almond powder or white breadcrumbs
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 packet all-four cheese
• 1 box lasagna sheets *
• 2 cups homemade stock
* To make things easier, pick the “no-need-to-precook dried lasagna sheets” which should be easily available now in supermarkets. If you can’t find this, you will have to boil individual sheets of lasagne and set aside for layering later.
Ingredients for béchamel (white sauce) :-
• 2 tbsp butter
• ½ cup flour
• 1 cup milk
• ¼ cup parmesan
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, until sizzling.
2. Add onions followed by celery, cook over medium heat until the vegetables have softened.
3. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook for another 3minutes.
4. Pour in the pureed tomato, stirring frequently.
5. Stir in salt, black pepper, oregano and paprika.
6. Add in the minced meat, cook gently for 10minutes, stirring frequently and breaking up any lumps in the meat with a wooden spoon.
7. Add stock and simmer for 5minutes or until reduced.
8. For the béchamel; In a sauce pan, melt some butter and whisk some flour to form a thick paste. Add milk, whisk continuously. Season with salt and black pepper. Add Parmesan. Bring to a boil and turn of heat. Set aside.
9. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C.
10. To assemble the dish, spray the bottom of the dish with some olive oil.
11. Cover the oil with a layer of lasagna sheets.
12. Then spread over a layer of the meat sauce you prepared. Followed by a good amount of grated cheese. And some Italian spices (if using)
13. Lay another layer of the lasagna sheets, on top of this layer spread some béchamel sauce and cheese again.
14. Repeat the process, making layer after layer, finishing with a béchamel layer and sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese and some almond powder.
15. Bake for about 20minutes until bubbling.
16. Serve with a little splash of olive oil.