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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Worlds Easiest Lasagna Recipe, Probably!


There are so many recipes for Lasagna out there, there is practically a version for everyday of the week, to a non Italian I imagine its confusion personified.

This recipe listed here however long it may appear, is very easy and dispenses away with the addition of carrots, peas, mushrooms and goodness knows what else people have tried to add into this classical dish over the years.

Instead we have here just a simple Classic Southern Italian variety which features (optional) sliced hard boiled eggs and does away with the creamy bechamel which is more of a Northern Italian thing, and is really not an essential element (arguably).

Basically, what this means is, is that this Lasagna has a more classical taste, and a deeper meaty and rich tomato flavour. In this dish the mozarella is used more freely than other variants, and adds a subtle creaminesss and texture, without the need for the claggy, often syrupy bechamels.

Despite what you may think or have been told Lasagna is very easy, and typically can be knocked up in around 1hr to 1hr and a half. Which even at an hour or so, is not a long length of time when you consider most of it is "oven time". Obviously the results will speak for themselves, and the taste will be far superior to a readymade meal.

So let me introduce you to the easiest, and one of the best tasting Lasagna's out there!
The *'s you will see below are explained in the footnotes the bottom of the page.



INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced, or finely diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 large bottle of Passata sauce
1/2 small tin of Tomato Puree (around 3 tablespoons)
1/2 pint of Water (filtered is best)
75g Minced pork
100g Minced lamb
150g Mince Beef

Salt and Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 teaspoon of Oregano
2 Hard boiled Eggs, sliced laterally (optional)
3 Balls of Mozarella preferabbly Buffalo's milk, broken into small pieces.*
A couple of good handfulls of FRESHLY grated Parmesan cheese**
2 Packets of "Ready to use" Lasagna sheets***

COOKING UTENSILS NEEDED
A deep sided pan for cooking the pasta sauce.
A medium sided bakeware dish, or Pyrex, around 3 inch depth on the sides is adequate, but certainly not any deeper than 4 inches.


METHOD
This can be broken down into two parts, the first part is the preparation of the tomato "bolognese" style sauce, which will form the basis for the Lasagna's flavour. Incidentally this sauce could be used as a base to a whole host of other recipes.

PART I
-Very gently heat the deep sided pan on a medium heat setting, add the olive oil, onions and garlic, and fry very gently for a few minutes on a low minute. We are aiming to soften rather than adding colour. So be gentle.

-Next add the minced meats, and season rather generously at this stage, fry the meat until it is semi-cooked, stirring to break up the chunks, and continue until it is an even brown/grey colour.

-Next add the tomato puree, stir thoroughly to combine and cook this onwards for two minutes.

-Next add the Passata sauce, the water, the oregano and the bay leaf, and once again stir throughly to make sure everything is nicely combined.

-Next reduce the heat down to a simmer, and allow to lightly simmer for around a minimum of 70 minutes, but you could, and actually (if not in any rush) I WOULD recommend 2 hours or more, you are looking for a very gentle simmer so its barely cooking, season to taste after about the hour mark.

-Now you can remove from the heat and set aside, and continue to Part 2. As mentioned, if you find you have to much, don't forget this sauce can also be used as a simple Bolognese sauce, or for Pasta bakes too.


PART 2
NOTE- Read all the steps in Part 2 before you start, so you are familiar with what you are going to be doing~ Actually not a bad practice when following any recipe really.

-So firstly using a ladel, Smooth some of the tomato meat sauce onto the bottom of the bakeware dish, just a very very thin layer, but evenly coating the bottom. On later layers you can be slightly more generous, but more on that later!

-Next add a layer of the Lasagna pasta sheets to cover the bottom, avoid excessive overlap, cut-to-fit if you need to. Keep the pasta trimmings to add into Broths, that kind of thing.

-Now spoon over a generous quantity of the tomato meat sauce, and add some egg slices, and a few pieces of the mozarella. Be generous, but your better judgement is needed here, as we are aiming for three layers. When adding the sauce between layers, keep in mind that we are aiming to avoid waterlogging the pasta, but at the same time we don't want a dry dish.

-Now repeat the above procedure until you reach the top of the dish, 3 layers is the ideal. More than this, and it can become a bit too heavy.

-On the final layer, be extra generous with the sauce and mozarella, and sprinkle over the freshly grated Parmesan. This will create a nice delicious baked "crust".

-Next place into the middle of a pre-heated medium high oven (Gas Mark 6) and bake for around 25-35 minutes until golden. Start checking after about 20 minutes, but avoid opening the oven before this time.

-Remove from oven and DO NOT touch for at least twenty minutes, to allow it to cool. If you try to slice it earlier it will all fall apart. You could even make this the day before, and divide the dish into portions, then just re-heat each portion when needed. This is also perfectly freezable, and will hold its texture nicely. A great standby to have in the freezer!

ENJOY!


FOOTNOTES

*Use the Best Mozarella you can afford, the taste difference is immeasurable. The pieces should be the size of a ten pence piece.

**Ready grated Parmesan is not suitable at all, please grate Parmagiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese yourself, it is available in blocks in all supermarkets.

*** I would recommend NOT using the fresh pasta sheets though. They are never as good as the ready to use dried. If you opt for normal Lasagna sheets, pre-cook them per the packets information prior to Part 2 of the recipe.



1 comment:

chantal_banks said...

I'm trying this tonight....it's cooking right now and it smells wooooonderful! Thank you! :)

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