This is an alternative lasagne – the components of which you can alter to suit your taste. If you are vegetarian you could replace the meat layers with all manner of vegetables like sauteed mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, grilled aubergine (eggplant) or courgette (zucchini).
This one has multiple layers – a traditional layer of minced beef in a tomato sauce, along with ham, spinach, and peppers. It looks lovely and vibrant on the plate, but it takes a while to make. Its a great recipe if you are feeding a large group and all the better for being made the day before.
For the meat sauce
300g steak mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
400g chopped tomatoes or tomato passata
2 tsp sugar
handful of parsley leaves chopped
salt and pepper
dash of olive oil
For the white sauce
1 pint of milk
25g of butter
1/4 cup of flour
stalks from the parsley
1/2 tsp of whole white peppercorns
For the layers
8 slices of wafer ham
1/2 bag spinach leaves
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Fresh lasagne sheets
First start the white sauce. Place the milk, quartered onion, carrot chunks, parsley stalks and peppercorns in a saucepan and simmer gently with the lid on for around 25 minutes. You don’t want the milk to evaporate – simply to be infused with the flavour of the vegetables.
Next make the meat sauce. Saute the chopped onion in a frying pan in a very small amount of olive oil, with the crushed garlic until soft and translucent. Add the minced beef and separate completely with two forks. When the beef has lost its pinkness grated over nutmeg and add the tomatoes and the sugar. Simmer with the lid off until the liquid has largely evaporated. (you might notice a few kidney beans in here – I had these left over and chucked them in too). Take off the heat and stir through the chopped parsley.
While the meat is simmering make the white sauce. You will need some roux, which is simply a flour butter mix. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stir with a whisk and cook for just two minutes. It should be glossy and velvety. Now drain the milk, discarding the vegetables and add the flavoured milk to the roux, whisking a while to get a nice smooth white sauce.
Turn on the over to 170 degrees. Now layer as follows:
Meat sauce onto the bottomed of a square or rectangular baking dish
Cover with lasagne
Smother the lasagne with white sauce
Cover the whitesauce with spinach leaves
Grate some nutmeg
Layer with ham
Top with sliced peppers
Top with grated cheese and chopped parsley
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Should be bubbling and golden.