When the inevitable question comes, ‘What’s for tea tonight?’ the answer, ‘Lasagne’ always puts a smile on my hubby’s face. That and meatballs. And meatloaf. And quite a few other favourite meals, come to think of it! Lasagne can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. Basically, it is comprised of three parts. Tomato-based sauce with beef, pasta sheets and white sauce. The tomato sauce can be home-made from tinned tomatoes and herbs, or just use a jar of your favourite pasta sauce. The pasta sheets can be home-made (which my mum does on occasion, but I have never tried), fresh egg pasta or dried pasta. The white sauce can be bought in a jar, but it is pretty easy to make too. I will tell you how I usually make it, but there are options there for you, should you choose to use them.
1 lb minced beef
1 jar tomato-based sauce
1 pack fresh pasta sheets
2 oz butter
2 oz flour
1/2 pt milk
4 oz grated cheese
Dice the onion and fry it gently in a saucepan until it softens. Add the beef and cook through. Pour in the pasta sauce and mix well. Set to one side. Melt the butter in a fresh saucepan, then use a whisk to mix in the flour. Keeping it over a medium heat, add the milk a little at a time, so you gradually go from a thick paste to a milky sauce. Stir constantly until it begins to thicken. Season if you wish.
Now to put it together. I have a shallow, square, 8×8 pyrex dish that I favour for this, but a baking tin will work too. The number of layers of pasta I can manage from one pack dictates how many layers I do, usually 3. Put 1/3 of the meat mixture in the bottom of the dish and spread it evenly. Next, a layer of pasta (some pasta needs to be boiled first, check the instructions on the packet). Then, spread 1/3 of the sauce over the pasta. Repeat, finishing with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake on 180°C for 30 – 40 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and salad.
*This is another meal that can be prepared earlier in the day or even the night before, and kept in the fridge until it’s ready to go in the oven.