Things are a little hectic around here right now. We are trying to get the farm house finished, so we can move in at the end of July (we have given our notice on our rented house for this date). The pressure is on. But that’s good, we’re making lots of progress. Mainly painting at the moment. Then the kitchen is going in next week… It’s exciting, but I’m knackered as I try to juggle that, my work, the kids, as well as a very busy time for the school PTA, which I chair.
Anyway, back to my latest kitchen adventure… Last week I made this AMAZIN’ lasagne! It’s a standard lasagne recipe I reckon, expect that this time I bumped up the amount of vegetables in there. My 5 year old Arthur is firmly still in his Fussypants Stage. And whatever he does, my 2 year old Beatrix copies. So I have 2 vegetable refusers at the table most evenings. Therefore I am trying to pack old favourites full of finely diced, hidden vegetables. They did detect some tiny veggie squares, as my knife skills – or lack of – means that nothing is ever diced that finely really. But I am confident that quite a lot were ingested too. Yay!
This lasagne is one of the best ones I have ever made. The extra veggies add lots of flavour – and the pancetta gives smokiness. Also, the layering of the bechamel gives creaminess throughout. I added loads of Parmesan on top and it was so crispy and cheesy. The kids loved it. This will be your new go to lasagne recipe – I promise!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
For the ragu:
500g minced beef
4 rashers (or similar amount of cubed) of pancetta (smoked streaky bacon is fine)
1 onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 courgette, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste (or tomato puree)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
About 12 lasagne sheets (for 4 x layers)
For the bechamel:
500ml whole milk
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon of mustard
50g cheddar, grated
100g mascarpone (Italian soft cream cheese) – optional
50g Parmesan, grated
- To make the ragu, add some diced pancetta to a tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottom pan and fry off for 5 minutes.
- Then simply tip in your diced vegetables and garlic in 1 more tablespoon of olive oil for about 20 minutes. A little colour is fine, as long as they are slowly caramelising!
- Add the meat and turn up the heat to brown. Add the tomato paste and dried oregano once brown. Pour in the passata and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Cook on low for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, make the bechamel in the microwave. Simply put the flour, milk and butter into a microwaveable jug. Mix a little then set to high for 7 minutes. Each minute, whisk. First it will melt and then it will thicken. Once thick, keep cooking for a minute to cook out the flour. Once done, add the mascarpone, cheddar, mustard and salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Using a large baking dish, layer 4 sheets of lasagne, breaking them to make a decent layer covering. Then use a 1/4 of the meat ragu, followed by a 1/4 of the cheese sauce (use a spoon to spread this out a bit). Do this again 3 times. You will just be able to squeeze in 4 layers. Finish with a heavy covering of grated parmesan, which will plug any gaps you have with the final layer of cheese sauce.
- Drizzle with extra virgin and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Turn the heat down if it’s browning too fast.
- Eat with a simple salad and maybe some garlic bread.