This recipe is one that I adapted from Jamie Oliver’s lasagna recipe – which I love and would highly recommend anyone to try it. Jamie O’s Lasagna.
However, he does claim that it is a very simple recipe, but I beg to differ! There is quite a lot of faffing about – such as buying fresh pasta sheets and pre-cooking them, roasting butternut squash and adding it into the meatsauce (which does taste fantastic!) and although that is all very good…sometimes you just don’t have time or the energy, and you just want to make something – well…simple!
What is an absolute gem and what makes this recipe a winner hands-down in both taste and effort is the bechamel sauce – or rather lack of! Instead of slaving over a tricky white sauce (which has always put me off in the past), all you need is a tub of creme fraiche and lots of grated parmesan!!
I have now made this dish 3 times (since December) and each time is has been a roaring success!
Serves 6: What you need!
Make a good meat sauce. This can vary every time I make it depending on what I have at hand but the two main secrets are: a) to use both ground beef and pork meat. b) Let your meat suace simmer for at least an hour – this will let all the flavours mix together and get a really lovely soft texture to the meat. Generally this is what I always use for my basic meat sauce:
The meat sauce: First get a mixing bowl, and blend together your ground beef and pork with a good amount of salt and white pepper – I tend to cover the surface of the meat with both seasonings and then blend it all together quite vigorously so that everything is well blended.
Then take a large pot and put in the bacon strips stir around for a couple of minutes – because of the bacon fat you don’t need any olive oil or butter. When the bacon fats starts to melt pour in the onions and carrots. This way all that lovely smokey bacon flavour infuses with your onions and carrots, this really is the base of your dish!
When the onions are soft and have that translucent colour to them, pour in you mixed and seasoned ground meet. Mix it all together and fry the meat until it gets that slightly grey colour. Once it has reached that rather lifeless looking grey colour it is time to pour in the liquids. Pour in 1 or 2 glasses of red wine (optional) stir it together for a couple of minutes and then add in the tins of tomatoes. Crumble a vegetable stock cube in and add 2 bay leaves a good amount of oregano and the finely sliced garlic.
Remember that you are going to cook this sauce for about an hour, if it is looking slightly to dry pour in half a tin of water (using the empty tomato tin!). Simmer with the lid on for about 30 mins or so, and then for the last half hour remove the lid. This is when all the liquid will start to evaporate and you are left with a lovely thick meaty consistency. Once you have removed the lid, give it a taste and see what is missing and seasons again if necessary (I usually add some tomato ketchup (heinz!) for a bit of extra red colour and to add that element of sweetness, which gives the dish a nice rounded punch).
The faux bechamel sauce: So while the meat sauce is simmering away, you can make the faux bechamel sauce: Add the creme fraiche and grated parmesan together – and your done! Ha! How easy was that?
Assembling the Lasagna
Pre-heat your oven to 180C
Put a layer of pasta sheets neatly together in your casserole dish, so that the bottom is covered as much as possible. The put a layer of meat sauce over the pasta, then a layer of the white sauce. Repeat the process untill there is no more room. Ending with a layer pasta and the white sauce. Tear some mozzarella liberally over the top, and then pop it into the oven for about 30-35 mins.
And there you have it – the worlds easiest lasagna….