Every week I plan to share with you a tried and tested recipe that I use frequently and love. It has taken me a long time to cook regularly and over the last year, I have finally got into a routine. I’ve managed to save a lot of money, reduce my junk food cravings and generally feel much better for having access to fresh food. I apologise for my food pics in advance, I cannot get any good pictures for the life of me! Trust me, tastes much better than it looks!
I am assuming there are people out there who, like me, find it difficult to “adult”. Clean regularly, grocery shop, cook regularly, etc. I don’t know, maybe I am the only useless adult who took so long to learn how to “adult” properly?? In any case, it took me a while and I found it really hard. My mom didn’t teach me how to cook and I had to learn everything on my own. I have to admit that I come from a privileged background and we always had help around the house, so I never had to actually do anything. Instead of making my life easy as my parents intended, it set me up for many years of struggle and feeling like an idiot for not being able to do simple things that everyone else could do. This also set me up for many arguments with my husband for not pulling my weight around the house. I am lucky that he understands and he does a lot of chores around the house. I married him specifically because he doesn’t think it’s his wife’s job to take care of the house. He also cooks and makes sure our split of housework is even.
I also want to say that my advice is not for women only. Any adult should learn how to cook. If you are living with your parents, it shouldn’t be your mom who always does the cooking. You should pitch in too and give her a break. If you are a married man and your wife does all the cooking, you should volunteer to cook once a week. If you are alone, you should be cooking and not eating out all time! Trust me, your body and bank balance will thank you for it.
I wouldn’t often make lasagne because for some reason the recipes I found were complicated and time-consuming. It’s a great dish though; perfect comfort food and great for leftovers. So I started looking again and I put this recipe together from two different recipes I found and every time I’ve made it, it turns out really nice and just hits the spot.
Classic Lasagne Recipe
PREP TIME: 20-30 minutes
COOK TIME: 45 minutes
- 9-12 lasagne sheets
- 75 grams cheddar (grated)
- 1 mozzarella ball shredded (optional)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 500 grams minced beef (I use lamb sometimes and it works)
- 1 big white onion (diced)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 or 2 red chilli pepper (chopped, optional you can leave it out if you don’t want it spicy)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning (or you can mix dried basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary to make one tbsp or use one of them if you don’t have them all-oregano is probably best)
- 50 grams butter
- 50 grams plain flour
- 500 ml milk (whole is best)
- 1-2 tsp of Dijon mustard (optional)
- 50 grams parmesan (grated)
- Salt and pepper
There is a bit of prep work involved, but you can do that in advance and then layer your lasagne and put it in an hour or so before dinner. It’s a great make-ahead recipe and the leftovers keep well. To freeze: follow the recipe until step 6 and then freeze the lasagne (don’t cook it). When you are ready to cook it, cook from frozen as above and add 45 minutes to cooking time (so total cooking time will be 90 minutes).
- Precook the pasta: follow the instructions on the pasta packet. Basically you will need to boil salted water and add the pasta in and cook for about 5 minutes then drain. Be careful that the sheets don’t stick together (this happened to me the first time – what a nightmare!) put some olive oil after you have drained the pasta and separate the layers on a plate while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
- For the meat sauce: put a large saucepan on a medium-high heat and heat the oil. Once hot enough (I usually test this by putting a piece of chopped onion; if the oil is hot enough the onion will sizzle) fry the onion, garlic and chilli until the onion has softened. Add the mince and cook until browned all over (there should be no more pink remaining) and keep crumbling the meat with your spoon/spatula as you are cooking so there aren’t any big lumps. Season with salt and pepper. If you like your meat more spiced or “Asianified”, you can add a bit of turmeric, ground coriander and cumin here – but not too much! Make sure everything is mixed well.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to a boil until the sauce thickens. This may take some time so keep boiling, the sauce shouldn’t be too watery as it will need to be layered on top of the pasta and you don’t want the sauce dripping everywhere. Keep stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. If the sauce is not thickening, add about 1-2 tbsp of flour. Once it gets to the right consistency, take off the heat.
- For the white sauce: melt the butter on a medium heat in a medium saucepan, once melted add the flour and stir/whisk until combined into a roux (paste for thickening sauces) for about 1 minute. The roux should be a golden buttery colour and should be reasonably thick like a paste. Make sure it doesn’t burn!
- Slowly add in the milk and keep whisking until the sauce thickens (it should be a little thicker than double cream). This may take a bit of time, so keep it cooking and keep whisking. Once thickened, add the Dijon mustard if using, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C and layer the lasagne: in a rectangular dish, put a layer of meat at the bottom, then some of the white sauce on top and if you are using mozzarella shred it on top of the white sauce then add a layer of pasta. Do the same again; on the last layer you will spread the meat sauce, then the white sauce and instead of another pasta layer, sprinkle the cheddar cheese all over the top.
- Bake at 190°C for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling on the side.
I hope you found this recipe useful. Leave me a comment, message me on social media or email me if you make this and let me know what you think.
For a veggie lasagne recipe, try this one. I don’t usually make the veggie version because I find the prep for the vegetables a bit too time-consuming, but it is good!