Lasagna is a family friendly meal and is a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables, as you can disguise a few different sorts in here.
A classic lasagna is made up of three parts – ragu, bechamel and pasta – all layered in one pot. Etymologists think that lasagna came from either the ancient Roman word ‘lasanum’ which means ‘pot’ or the Greek word ‘laganon’ which means ‘flat dough’.
This all sounds pretty fancy, but it’s not. Ragu is a tomato and meat sauce, bechamel is a creamy cheese sauce and these are layered into one pot with sheets of flat pasta.
Because we have a surplus of zucchini in our garden this year, I have also added layers of thinly sliced zucchini to our version.
5.30pm – This recipe takes about an hour from start to end, but the oven does all the work during the second half, so you can potter about doing other tasks. Get the kids to set the table, put their shoes away or make their beds. Or if you are totally stressed, take that half an hour for yourself by turning on the tv so the kids zone out and you can read a book, or maybe hang out on Facebook while drinking a glass of wine.
- 500g mince
- 150g bacon
- splash of olive oil
- Can of diced tomatoes
- Half cup of wine
- Optional extra vegetables: mushrooms, spinach, egg plant, capsicum, etc.
How to do ragu
Chop your onion and garlic and throw it in a saucepan with some olive oil on a medium heat. As it cooks and softens, chop the bacon into small strips and add that to the pan. Add the mince to the pan. You’ll need to stir it quite a bit to make sure it gets cooked through properly.
Once the meats are browned, turn it down to low, and add the can of tomatoes. Throw in a splash of wine to make the sauce a nice consistency. Add oregano, and other herbs if you wish. Grate the carrots and throw them in too. Optional: If you want more vegetables, finely chop or grate them and add them here too.
Let the sauce boil down and thicken for about 15 minutes on a low heat.
- lump of butter
- grated cheese
How to do bechamel
As this cooks down, make the bechamel sauce. Melt some butter in a pot (on medium/low), then add just enough flour to soak up all the butter. Stir it madly and slowly add milk to create the sauce. Once the sauce has turned creamy, keep it on a very low heat and add salt and pepper. Some recipes have nutmeg, but I don’t like that, so I leave it out. Add a handful of grated cheese to the bechamel sauce.
What you’ll need
- Lasagne pasta/sheets
- 6 zucchinis
- Grated cheese
Putting it together into lasagne
Now all the different sections need to be put together. Slice the zucchini into long thin strips. In an oven-proof dish, put layers of lasagna, bechamel, ragu, zucchini, in any order you wish. I tend to put a layer of lasagna between each layer. The final layer should be lasagna topped with bechamel sauce and grated cheese. Cover the dish with tin foil and pop in the oven on 180C for about half an hour. Remove the tin foil and keep cooking for another ten minutes so the cheese on top goes nice and brown.
6.30pm – Finished! Take it out of the oven and serve. The zucchini layers should have cooked through and melted into the sauces making them effectively disguised and yummy. To serve, just put the whole thing on a mat on the table and dish some out to everyone. And bask in the praise. “You are a good cook, Mum,” said Kid1.