Happy Saturday folks! I hope the weekend is treating everyone well, and for those of you who still have to keep working, the Lord is your strength, Amen somebody?
I don’t know what you have planned for dinner today (or tomorrow), but personally, I dislike going round and round in a rice, yam, plantain, chicken eating cycle. I think it is fun to try out new dishes and various tastes from around the world. Today we’re going to Italy to sample the fine dish known as Lasagne.
Lasagne is a dish that originated in Italy, but is now enjoyed by the rest of the world, especially by an overweight orange American cat. It is more or less a pasta dish, its primary ingredient being lasagne sheets which are made of durum wheat.
500g of beef mince
800g of tomatoes
2 packs of Lasagne sheets
2 cloves of garlic (Cloves not bulbs; don’t be like me)
2 sticks of celery (or lettuce, as you like)
3 onions (regular onions or spring onions)
A bunch of fresh basil and parsley (you can find this in the vegetable section at Shoprite, or you can just use dried basil instead)
2 tsps of oregano
2 tsps of black pepper
1 tsp of peppercorns
35g of butter (or cooking margarine of you choose)
45g of plain flour
70g of Parmesan cheese
500ml of skimmed milk
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsps of Olive oil
1 cup of sherry
Start with the tomato sauce; it’s actually Bolognese sauce so you can also use this recipe for spaghetti.
- Chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery in similar sizes.
- Slice the ham finely.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan; put in the ham slices and the oregano. Stir and leave to cook until golden brown.
- Reduce the heat, and pour in the vegetables. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the minced meat and the tomatoes.
- Pour in the cup of sherry and season with salt and pepper.
- Chop up the basil stalks (storing the leaves for later) and add to the stew. Bring the stew to the boil.
- Simmer uncovered for 90 minutes; pay attention so it doesn’t dry out or burn.
- Turn off the heat
To cook the lasagne sheets,
- Bring about 1.5 litres of water to the boil.
- Pour the boiling water into a large pan with a little oil, and blanch the lasagne sheets in them for about 5 minutes.
- Drain the lasagne in a colander and set aside.
Now we make the cheese sauce,
- Slice a small onion and cook in a large pan together with the skimmed milk, parsley, nutmeg and the peppercorns. You can out in the bay leaf too.
- Watch the mixture carefully, and only just allow it to begin to boil, and then turn off the heat.
- Strain the milk and set aside.
- In another pan, melt the butter and then mix in the flour.
- Pour in the strained milk, a little at time, stirring as you go.
- Stir the sauce until it is completely smooth, and then bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
Now it’s time for the grand finale.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Celsius.
Put the basil leaves in the Bolognese sauce and taste for salt and pepper. Season if need be.
Cover the bottom in a third of the bolognese sauce. Cover in a layer of lasagne and top with some more bolognese sauce. Cover this with some of the cheese sauce. Then top with the lasagne sheets again. Layer on first, the rest of the Bolognese sauce, then the cheese sauce, and then the last of the lasagne sheets; cover in a final topping of cheese sauce and grate the Parmesan onto it.
You can top with tomato slices and basil; splash olive oil over the top of the dish.
Cover the dish with a foil, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the dish and the cook for another 20 minutes until bubbly and golden
Serve hot with any salad of your choice. You can eat it Garfield style too.
Lasagne can be made in a variety of ways, with any ingredients you choose. The key components are just the lasagna sheets, the tomato-meat sauce and the cheese. Anything else is up to you; have fun with it. But it’s important that you be careful, and never ever use cheddar cheese. Happy Saturday folks!