There are so many different ways to make lasagne. Mine is rarely the same, it all depends on what ingredients I have on hand and what takes my fancy. There is always a meat sauce with small diced vegetables through it, and often a layer of mushrooms and spinach. Often lasagne has béchamel sauce in the layers. I love béchamel but find it a bit heavy at times, so this recipe has a scattering of mozzarella on top of the meat layers instead. I have even used sliced bocconcini when that is what I found in the fridge.
800 grams mince (I like to use at least 2 kinds, usually ½ pork and ½ veal or beef)
3 short rashers double smoked bacon chopped
1 medium zucchini diced small
1 large carrot diced small
1 large stick celery diced
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
150 grams mushrooms sliced
3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2 heaped tblsp tomato paste
500 ml plain tomato cooking sauce
2 bay leaves
fresh parsley(about 4 sprigs)
fresh oregano (about 1 tblsp)
fresh basil (about 2 tblsp)
200grams mozzarella grated
parmesan finely grated
lasagne sheets (I like the Barilla ones)
Heat oven to 180. In a large deep frying pan sauté carrot, celery, garlic and onion in a little olive oil over a medium heat until translucent. To this mix add your chopped bacon and brown for about 2 minutes. As an alternative to the bacon you can also use salami or prosciutto. It’s another textural element and a good way to add salt. Next add the mince and brown evenly. Stir through the tomato paste.
Add 2 bay leaves, fresh herbs and tomato cooking sauce. Grate in a little fresh mace, reduce heat and allow to simmer. You can leave it uncovered but check the level of liquid so it doesn’t dry out. If it does look a little dry, add some water, beef stock or a good splash of red wine. The longer you can let this simmer the richer the flavours will become.
In a separate frying pan melt a big tablespoon of butter with some olive oil and when starting to bubble add the sliced mushrooms. Move the mushroom around until they are just soft and cooked evenly. Remove from heat and from pan. Into the same pan add the spinach leaves over a medium heat and stir until they are just wilted. Remove from pan.
Grease a large lasagne dish. The one I use is rectangular and approx 350mm x 250mm. Line bottom with lasagne sheets, cutting them to fit where necessary. Do a layer of meat mix and then scatter some mozzarella. Then another layer of pasta, then meat, then the mushrooms and a scattering of cheese. Repeat the pasta and meat and this time do a layer of spinach and some cheese. Repeat the layers of pasta and meat, then top with another layer of pasta. Spread this last layer of pasta sheets with tomato cooking sauce and then cover with remaining mozzarella and the grated parmesan. Sprinkle a little dried oregano on top.
Cook for 25 minutes and serve with green salad and a glass of red.