To clean up
As I mentioned yesterday, the bolognese recipe makes a LOT. So here's what to do with the rest - or if you're cooking for a party, just make the bolognese for this. It's really great cos you can make it the day before and just stick it in the fridge. You can even stick it in the freezer for a few weeks but I don't like freezing food. Fresh is better, but lasagne (plural of lasagna) actually improve from resting for a day.
- Bolognese - see previous entry
- 75g olive oil spread
- Plain flour
- Instant lasagna
- Parmigiana Reggiano
In a saucepan, melt the olive oil spread over a low heat. Gradually add the flour, stirring until you have a thick paste. The flour should be completely covered by the oil, no dry bits.
Add a little milk. Stir thoroughly until it's completely mixed in. Add a little more milk, stirring thoroughly again. Now turn up the heat to medium-high-ish. Add more milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly. If the mixture starts to get lumpy, stop adding milk and stir briskly until it's smooth. Then continue slowly adding milk. If it seems too lumpy, don't give up, just keep stirring. It'll smooth out eventually. You can try whisking it if it's really bad, but be careful not to whip it up. In the end, you're looking for a sauce about as thick as double cream. If it's too thick you won't have enough, and if it's too runny it'll mix itself in with the meat as you add it. Once it seems like the right thickness, stir in a pinch of nutmeg.
Put a layer (about 1cm thick) of bolognese sauce into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Pour a thin layer of bechamel (which is what that white sauce is) over this. The meat should always cover the layer below, but the bechamel doesn't have to be a full layer. Just try and keep it fairly even. On top of this, put a layer of lasagna. Try not to overlap much, but make sure it goes as close to the edges as you can achieve.
Continue in this manner, meat bechamel pasta until you're out of something. Hopefully it's pasta. Your last layer should be bechamel, and on top of that you'll sprinkle some mozarella. On top of that sprinkle a bit of parmesan.
Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until tomorrow. Or just cook it right then, but unless you've got a pretty wet bolognese you'll probably find the pasta a bit tough.
To cook, preheat the oven to 180C. Stick the lasagna in for about half an hour, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted and gone light golden brown.
I received some advice from a friend with Italian parents who informs me that a traditional lasagna has a layer of fresh chopped chillis after the bechamel. I've not tried it as I'm not crazy on chillis, but if you want a bit of a kick, give it a go.
You can cook the pasta first if you like but you have to go to a lot of trouble to cook it in batches and lay it all out on teatowels as you're going. If you don't, you'll just end up with a saucepan containing a lump of pasta. The instant lasagna tastes pretty good and as long as you let it rest a while, it soaks up plenty of the moisture from the bolognese anyway. Of course if you're equipped with a pasta maker, or your supermarket stocks it, fresh lasagna is the best.
If you don't get all the way through this in one go, to reheat leftovers cover it with alfoil and put it back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes. Microwaving it will make the cheese a bit chewy and turn the pasta into rubber.