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Classic Lasagna

This is a recipe for a simple classic lasagna. Layers of ready lasagna sheets, Bolognese sauce, béchamel, fresh basil and topped with fresh mozzarella. Lots of flavor and pure comfort food. Add a layer of cooked spinach, or grilled veggies (zucchini, peppers and eggplant go well) in between one of the layers to add another flavor dimension and make it healthier. I like to put a thin layer of béchamel and keep the whole dish light and less cheesy but it's up to you to adjust to your liking. If you don’t have mozzarella handy for the top layer, just add extra béchamel and parmesan on top and it will taste equally amazing.

If you're looking for a vegetarian lasagna, I have a recipe over here.

Lasagna variations:

Baked dishes are great because you can just pop them in the oven and get on with whatever else you need to do! Try these other bakes:

The Bolognese Sauce

What you need:

500 gms mince lamb or beef

800 gms tomato puree (tinned or make your own with this recipe)

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup red wine

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp cinnamon powder

Dry chili flakes (optional)

Handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped

Olive oil

Putting it all together-

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and cook till translucent. Add the garlic, carrots and rosemary. If using chili flakes, add some now.

2. Once the vegetable are soft, add the minced meat. Cook on high heat while breaking the meat into fine bits. Toss around till brown on all sides.

3. Add the red wine and cook further till bubbling.

4. Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, cinnamon and oregano. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and cook for about 30 mins. You will have to stir the sauce every now and then. 5. The liquid will thicken and turn brownish. If it gets too dry after half an hour, add some more water.

6. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

The Bechamel

What you need:

100 gms butter

80 gms flour

1 cup milk, room temperature + 1/2 cup

100 gms Parmesan

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

Putting it all together:

1. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the flour

2. Keep stirring together on medium heat till well combined

3. Add the milk and lower heat. Keep stirring avoid lumps. The sauce will thicken as it cools. If you need to thin in out, add another 1/2 cup of milk and stir.

4. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

5. By now the milk will be slightly warm. On very low heat, use a whisk to stir the mixture till it thickens into a nice sauce. It is important to use a whisk at this stage to prevent the sauce from burning. It should have a pourable consistency but no overly liquid.

6. Remove from heat and keep aside.

Layering the lasagna

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. In a large baking dish, spread some Bolognese to cover the base.

3. Add a layer of lasagna sheets. Top with more Bolognese making sure all corners of the sheet is covered. The pasta will cook in the liquid of the sauce so any uncovered bits will remain raw. While doing this, make sure you have a balance of gravy and meat all around. Keep the layer thin as it will get too meaty by the end of all the layers.

4. Add a thin layer of béchamel. Sprinkle some parmesan and torn basil leaves, fresh pepper.

5. Repeat the above process till you have 4 layers of pasta or more, depending on your dish.

6. Finish the final layer with torn chunks of fresh mozzarella and some fresh black pepper.

7. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 mins till the lasagna sheets are cooked. Remove foil and bake open for another 5 mins so the top gets golden and crisp.

8. Allow to rest outside for 10-15 mins before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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