A good lasagne is a thing of absolute beauty and it works so well as a mid-week meal because you can make it a day or two in advance, writes Alasdair Nunn of Halifax caterers RachAls Kitchen.
Ingredients (serves 6 people)
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g minced beef
250ml red wine
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 x 400g tins of tomato
6-9 lasagna sheets
Handful of parmesan or cheddar etc
For the Bechamel sauce
850ml warm milk
Gently heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and cook off the carrot, celery and onions for 10 minutes, or until the vegetable mix has softened. Add the garlic and stir. Once soft, scoop this mixture into a bowl, put the pan back on the heat and add the tomato purée and then add the beef mince, stir and fry until it is browned.
Tip the vegetable mix back into the pan and add the red wine and bay leaf. Add the tinned tomatoes, season well and bring to a simmer. Cook the mixture for approx.
45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the meat is softened.
For the béchamel, melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and stir in the flour and cook out for approx. 3 minutes. Stir in the warm milk a little at a time over a low heat and then bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Keep stirring and cooking until the béchamel thickens, then cook over a low heat for 5 minutes and stir every now and then. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Take off the heat.
Heat your oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and then layer up the lasagna by placing a thin layer of béchamel into the base of a large ovenproof dish, and add a couple of spoonfuls of meat sauce. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, a layer of béchamel, then meat and lasagne, and repeat with a little béchamel and the remaining meat and pasta. Pour the remaining béchamel over the top and scatter over the cheese.
Cook for approx. 50 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through and the cheese is “browned” and bubbling.