Mareike’s home-made lasagna

To me, lasagna tastes like home, like coziness, like belonging, as well as like family and friends. It’s one of those dishes that is best shared with many people and perfect for when you have guests and truly want to make them feel at home when they visit. One of the best lasagnas I ever had was made by the Italian dad of one of my closest friends from childhood, when we were just teenagers. It’s safe to say that it’s one of those dishes for which everyone who regularly makes it will have their own personal way of preparing it. Well, this is my take on lasagna, which I sincerely hope you enjoy.

Servings: 8  *  Calories per servings: 459 kcal  *  Preparation time: 60 min  *  Start to finish time: 3hs 55 min

Ingredients for the Bolognese sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb (500 grams) of ground beef
  • 36 ounces (1000 ml) of pureed tomatoes
  • 3 generous tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 10 ounces (285 grams) of sweet corn
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 cups (720 ml) of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • ½ a teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Ground pepper

Ingredients for assembling the lasagna

  • Lasagna pasta slices (enough for four layers of lasagna in the casserole dish you want to use)
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup of water

img-20181028-wa002940985512.jpgBegin by dicing up the onion and garlic cloves. (Side note: there are quite a few people who don’t like biting on chunks of onion, but don’t mind the taste and texture they contribute to a meal. In that case, a great solution is to puree the onion and garlic cloves by blending them). Put a large pot on a medium heat and add the garlic cloves and onion. Let them simmer for a minute before adding the ground beef. Once the ground beef is all brown, dice up or shred the carrot and add it, along with the sweet corn, to the meat. Add the pureed tomato, tomato paste and water and stir everything well for one or two minutes. Then add the spices and briefly bring the sauce to boil for one minute, before reducing the temperature to low and letting it simmer. The longer you allow the sauce to simmer on low heat, the better, as it allows the spices to truly penetrate every bit of the sauce. As a rule of thumb, every extra minute it gets enhances the flavor and thus your eating experience. I usually aim for 1.5 to 2 hours. If you don’t want to wait that long, give it at least 30 minutes.

The preparation time for the béchamel sauce is approximately 10 minutes. Start by melting the butter in a pot and then add the milk. While stirring, add the flour and keep on stirring to ensure that you don’t end up with chunks of flour in the sauce. Add the nutmeg and a bit of ground pepper.

Before starting to assemble the lasagna in the casserole dish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/1800 degrees Celsius. Start by mixing the tomato paste with the water and pouring it on the floor of your casserole dish. Then lay the first layer of pasta over it. On top of the lasagna plate, add a layer of the Bolognese sauce so it covers them (approximately 1.5 cups). Add approximately eight to ten tablespoons of béchamel sauce. Repeat this process three times, so that you end up with four pasta layers in total. Once you’ve added the last round, drizzle the grated mozzarella cheese evenly on top. Then, place the casserole in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes before covering it with tin/aluminum foil and letting it bake for another 15 minutes. This is important to avoid rock hard burned cheese on top. After taking it out of the oven, let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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