I fall in love with every single recipe I come up with even if it’s a simple dip but I have to admit that cooking lasagne has a special place in my heart as it is the first dish I cooked 9 years ago & made me discover my passion for cooking.
This is a classical lasagne recipe with a tiny tweak in the tomato/meat sauce to give it more depth. I add PESTO! Although I am not a big fan of pesto but adding it to the tomato sauce adds to the overall taste of the dish without being able to distinguish that you are eating pesto.
Let’s agree that making lasagne is a little bit time consuming but it is very easy. Also, you can assemble the dish a day before & bake it the next day or you can simply freeze it & bake it whenever you aren’t in the mood for cooking. I included a boiling technique for the lasagne sheets that won’t make them stick together.
A delicious & easy recipe with a detailed step by step guide for perfecting it every time.
LASAGNE WITH A TWIST
For the Lasagne:
- 15 lasagne sheets
- boiling water
- olive oil for brushing
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup parmesan grated
For the Meat Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium carrot grated
1 medium onion grated
1 large garlic clove minced
1/2 kg minced meat
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
500 ml tomato puree
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 – 2 tsp pesto according to taste
salt & pepper
For the Bechamel:
- 4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1 liter milk
3/4 cup cheddar cheese grated
1/2 cup gouda cheese grated
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper
- Boil the Lasagne Sheets: Bring water to a boil in a big rectangular tray. Add a good pinch of salt. Lay the lasagne sheets next to each other in the tray. Boil for about 5-7 minutes. Spread a big sheet of foil on your kitchen counter & brush with olive oil. Take out the lasagne sheets & place next to each other on the oiled foil. Repeat the same steps until you finish all the lasagne. This technique guarantees that the sheets will never stick together.
- Prepare the Minced Meat: Heat a large non stick pan on high heat until hot, add 2 tbsp olive & swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Saute the onion, carrots & garlic for about 5 minutes until they start to soften but not brown. Add the minced meat, stirring it with the veggies & breaking it down with the back of a wooden spoon until its totally blended with the veggies. Season the mixture with salt & pepper & cook until the meat is no longer pink. Stir the tomato paste with the meat mixture for about a minute. Add the tomato puree & water & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low & simmer UNCOVERED for about 45 minutes until the sauce reduces & thickens. Turn off the heat. Stir in the pesto sauce & parmesan cheese then adjust the salt & pepper.
- Prepare the Bechamel: In another saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour & stir until they form a smooth paste. Add the milk gradually to the butter mixture, whisking constantly until all the milk is added & the flour is dissolved. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sauce comes to a boil & thickens. Turn off the heat. Add the cheese & stir to melt. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper.
- Assemble the Lasagne: Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread little meat sauce at the bottom of a 27×35 cm baking dish. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets then spread 2 ladles of meat sauce & 1 1/2 ladles of bechamel. Repeat the layers 2 more times, ending with lasagne sheets. Cover with the remaining bechamel & sprinkle with parmesan & mozzarella. Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes until the dish comes to a boil & the cheese melts. Broil for a couple of minutes until the top becomes golden brown. Serve immediately.
- Use Juhayna tomato puree or my homemade tomato puree recipe NOT fresh tomato juice.
- 4 tbsp butter is equal to 50 gm butter or 1/2 stick butter.
- I don’t like my lasagne to have a lot of meat sauce in every layer but if you prefer a thicker meat layer, make 2 layers of lasagne instead of 3 layers & spread 2 1/2 ladles of meat sauce on each layer.
- If you use a bigger or smaller baking dish, the number of lasagne sheets & the amounts of meat sauce bechamel per layer will vary.
- I prefer boiling the lasagne sheets before assembling the dish in order not to have a taste of raw pasta in the final dish.
- The bechamel gets thicker as it cools so add little more milk to loosen it.