lasagna with a whole heap of veggies… and you know, some meat for the carnivores

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so tonight we had some extras over. a cousin (not max, but another one), an uncle and an aunt to be precise. i made lasagna. it’s a crowd pleaser, an oldy and a goody i suppose you might say (if you were my father anyway).

true to form, it’s not dinner at my place unless there’s at least one variation. normally i’d throw two or three for some added interest but i just decided to keep it simple tonight.

lasagna. most people know how to cook a lasagna (at least i think that’s true). we all know it takes a while. this one (well three actually) took me about 2 1/2  hours i reckon, all up. i did have some extra “assistants” though. that was fun. what do they say about too many cooks in the kitchen again? nah, they were mostly good. the five-year-old? well.. we’ll just have to give her time.

lasagna basics

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tomato sauce (enough for 2 large lasagnas)

ingredients

  • 3 large tins (mine were 810 g each) of tomatoes. they say the less processed they are the better. see if you can find some with the least added sugar, salt and food stabiliser. just a personal preference.
  • 3 carrots grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced or crushed. crushed for me just seems to waste too much garlic.
  • 3 stalks of basil, chopped roughly
  • 1 stalk of rosemary, chopped finely

method

  1. whack it all into a large saucepan and cook on low heat until it becomes nice and liquid-y. you can let it cook for ages while you’re doing everything else.

white/cheese sauce

ingredients

  • 50 g butter
  • 1 C plain flour (i used gluten free flour, but that’s entirely optional)
  • 5 C milk (you can dilute this with water if you like. i probably ended up using 3 C lite milk and 2 C water.)
  • 300 g cheese grated

method

  1. melt butter and flour together in a saucepan. mix together until it becomes a thick paste. add more flour at this stage to thicken it. it’s not a good idea to add more later as that with cause lumps.
  2. add about 1 C of your liquid (milk/water). stir gently with a whisk over a medium-low heat until mixture is free of lumps and quite thick.
  3. add remaining liquid 2 cups at a time, stirring in between each addition.
  4. add grated cheese and stir until it is all melted. make sure you turn off the heat (or at least down to very low) once the sauce is ready as it can catch easily.

pasta/lasagna sheets

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this is a new thing for me. we always used to use dry, pre-made lasagna sheets. the other day when i was making pesto pasta with grace we had run it through the machine a few times and it came to me that it would be an excellent idea to make our own lasagna sheets. so i did. oh, btw i got this recipe from an awesome cooking class i did while i was in tuscany in september. if you’re staying near san gimingano you should totally check them out. they’re called ‘il vicario’. i do use a pasta machine, so you’ll have to adjust should you not have one.

ingredients

  • 200 g pasta flour (tipo 00. again, i use lighthouse brand.)
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt

method

  1. on a solid, clean, flat working area (a bench would be ideal), mix the flour with the salt.
  2. make a large hole in the middle of the flour mountain and add the eggs and the oil. now, and it will get a bit messy if you don’t watch out, work the ingredients together to make, as best you can, a dough. it will get stuck to your hands. if it gets too much, tip a little flour on your hands, rub them together, and set to picking the dough off.
  3. knead  the mixture a little more until it makes a ball. sort of.
  4. set aside for about 20 minutes. can i just say that, at this point, it will probably look a very small amount of pasta. it isn’t. it’s deceiving you.
  5. tear small amounts of the mixture from the ball. it’s hard to say how much. maybe a fifth of it? roll this amount with a rolling pin until reasonably flat.
  6. feed this through the largest setting on your pasta machine. then through one a little smaller. now a couple more notches down. and then probably to the second smallest one.
  7. there you go. all done. wasn’t too hard now, was it?

NOW FOR THE TWO VARIATIONS

variation veggie

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ingredients

  • 2/3 quantity tomato sauce
  • 1/2 quantity white sauce
  • 1/2  quantity pasta sheets
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin rounds
  • 1 zucchini, cut into thin, short strips
  • 1 eggplant, cut into think rounds
  • about 8 button mushrooms, cut thinly
  • 2 tomatoes, diced finely
  • 1 cup grated cheese

method

  1.   cook sweet potato, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms on a grill machine-y thing. or alternatively in the oven. just cook until they are slightly charred and tender.
  2. beef up (hee hee, get it :P) your tomato sauce with those diced fresh tomatoes.
  3. layer eggplant and zucchini along the bottom of your lasagna tray. 
  4. pour half of your tomato sauce onto the aforementioned veggies.
  5. place sheets of pasta to cover.
  6. layer sweet potato and mushrooms.
  7. add remaining tomato sauce.
  8. cover with pasta sheets.
  9. smear some white sauce and cheese on top.
  10. cook in a moderate oven (180 degree C) for approximately 1 hour or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

carnivore’s version

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ingredients

  • 1/3 quantity tomato sauce
  • 1/2 quantity white sauce
  • 1/2 quantity pasta sheets
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced or crushed
  • 500 grams extra-lean, 5-star beef mince
  • 1 C grated cheese

method

  1. heat oil and garlic in a saucepan. add mince and cook until the red colour has faded to brown.
  2. add tomato sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. pour half the sauce in a lasagna tray.
  4. top with half the pasta sheets
  5. add remaining sauce.
  6. add remaining pasta sheets.
  7. dollop of the white sauce (and spread it everywhere) and sprinkle with cheese.
  8. cook in a moderate oven (180 degree C) for approximately 1 hour or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

and there you go, a nice afternoon spent slaving in the kitchen. but they ate. the fussy eater (shall we call him the TFE for short?) came back for thirds. and some of the carnivores even ventured towards the veggo side of life!!!

goodnight ducklings 🙂

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