A lasagne (or lasagna in the USA) is the equivalent of a culinary hug. It’s a dish that subconsciously speaks “this is me taking care of you”. In any fortnight, one in seven Americans will eat lasagna at home and if people make a dish for someone who needs comforting, lasagne tops the charts. So here’s a recipe we all must have in our repertoire.
Serves 6 – 8Print this Recipe
- 1 tin of red kidney beans
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon of mild chilli powder
- 1 fluid ounce / 30ml garlic oil and some more for greasing
- 1 small onion
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt or ½ a teaspoon of table salt
- 1 lb 2 ounces / 500g minced beef
- 2 fluid ounces / 60ml red wine
- 35 fluid ounces / 1 litre tomato passata
- 26 fluid ounces / 750ml water
- 3 x 4½ ounces / 125g balls of mozzarella
- 1 lb 2 ounces / 500g dried lasagne sheets
- 12½ ounces / 350g cooked ham, thinly sliced
- ¾ ounce / 25g grated parmesan
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) / 392°F (356°F fan) / gas mark 6.
Tip the red kidney beans into saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, drain, rinse, and set aside.
Peel and chop the onion.
In a large, heavy-based saucepan, warm the oil then add the onion, sprinkle with salt and cook until it begins to soften.
Add the minced beef to the saucepan along with the chilli flakes and chilli powder. Break it up and stir it around long enough to turn the colour from pink to brown.
Add the wine.
Add the passata, then, pour the water into the empty passata bottle or carton, swish around, and add to the saucepan.
Cook the meat until it starts to bubble then cover with the lid and let it simmer on a fairly high heat without boiling for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a square lasagne dish about 12 x 8 x 2 inches / 34 x 23 x 6 cm by greasing it with the extra garlic oil and putting it on a baking tray.
Thinly slice the mozzarella balls keeping each pile separate.
Then, dish out three ladles’ worth of meat to line the base of the lasagne dish.
Cover this layer with about a quarter of the dried lasagne sheets, overlapping if necessary.
Add three more ladles’ worth of meat on top of the sheets.
Then add around a third of the thinly sliced ham in a covering layer, followed by a third of the red kidney beans, and one of the sliced mozzarella balls, spread around as layers.
Then add the second layer of dried lasagne sheets as before, followed again by three ladles of meat, the ham, the kidney beans, and the mozzarella.
Repeat the process with a third layer of sheets, mince, ham, beans, and mozzarella.
Top this off with the last quarter of dried lasagne sheets.
Finally, ladle out whatever is left in the saucepan into the dish, and sprinkle it with the grated parmesan.
Cover the dish with kitchen foil and put the dish and the baking tray into the oven.
Cook for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and check if the pasta is soft by pushing the point of a sharp knife through it. If not, return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Allow to cool a little before serving.
All dishes of this nature – chilli con carne is another – will benefit from being left for a day before serving. Just allow it to cool sufficiently, cover with clingfilm, and leave in the fridge overnight. Then reheat the following day. You will find the taste has improved.
Believe it or not, the Italian word lasagne comes from the Greek word lasanon for chamber pot. The Romans then borrowed the word with a boyish sense of potty humour to apply it to cooking pots, which they called a lasanum. The Italians used a lasanum in which to create this dish of layered pasta sheets, and eventually the word was transferred to the food itself – lasagne being the plural, and referring to the several sheets used in the pot. While the Italians and most others use the plural lasagne as the name, in North America the preference is to use the singular lasagna.Print this Recipe