Lasagne

02/02/2014

We believe this dish has evolved from a number of different areas and for various reasons.  Some say it started with leftovers.  Some say it started with a sauce made up of offal and bits no one wanted. Apparently the word itself comes from the Italian meaning thinly cut wood.

I say it doesn’t really matter how or why.  Everyone has their own way of making it and it’s a dish everyone can enjoy. There are gluten free (make your own pasta or store bought) and vegetarian versions.  This recipe can be made using all the options.  It will be a rich and rewarding experience – making it and eating it.  I usually roast or grill the vegetables and toss them into the sauce.  Some like to spread the vegetables in between layers of pasta and cheese.  In our family we always used hard boiled eggs and thinly sliced proscuitto or ham.  In other regions peas are scattered through to add colour.

Any left overs, if you are lucky, are delicious at room temperature in a packed lunch with salad.

1 packet of sheets of pasta (for 6 serves) 

Ingredients for the sauce

2 bottles (650ml) passata
Salt, pepper and herbs as desired (oregano and bay leaf)

ALL THE FOLLOWING ARE OPTIONAL:

1kg mince (a mix of veal and pork or beef or chicken)

6 mushrooms, chopped finely
garlic, chopped finely
1 carrot grated
1 zucchini grated
1 eggplant (chopped finely)
1 onion (chopped)
1 cup of red wine (vinegar)
1 red or green capsicum (chopped)

For the layers

2 cups mozzarella grated
1 tub ricotta
1 cup grated Parmesan

ALL THE FOLLOWING ARE OPTIONAL:

thinly sliced ham 
3 hard boiled eggs, grated
slices of roasted eggplant
slices of roasted pumpkin
slices of roasted capsicum

Stir fry the mince in a little olive oil.

When the meat is browned add salt, pepper and herbs and half the wine.

Reduce the wine and remove the meat.

Add a little olive oil and stir fry the veges eg the onion, capsicum, eggplant etc.

Continue stirring until the vegetables are softened (about 15 minutes) or just soft and golden then deglaze with the wine or wine vinegar.

Add the cooked meat and the sauce – mix well.

Allow to simmer for about an hour.

Stir and add ½ cup of water every 15 minutes or so.

Prepare the baking dish with a scoop or two of sauce to cover the bottom.

Layer sheets of lasagna with alternate cheese, ham, hard boiled eggs, ricotta and/or slices of eggplant, pumpkin or capsicum.

If the latter is in the sauce you don’t need to layer.

On top of each layer add a scoop of sauce just enough to cover – don’t forget the corners.

On the top layer of pasta just have sauce and parmesan cheese.

Cover with silver foil and bake (180C) for 50 minutes.

Remove the foil and allow another 10 minutes to golden on top.

Share with your loved ones – hot with extra sauce if there is any or allow to sit for an hour or so if you dare.

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