Lasagne Good Enough to Convert a Vegan

Plaid’s request for his birthday dinner was Lasagne. It’s not something I cook very often, because the way I do it can be quite time-consuming. I don’t make it the traditional ‘American’ way, I do it what at least I think, is the traditional English way. I expect that neither are entirely accurate, considering it is an Italian dish…

Either way, I was all set to get cooking when I realized that Mapper would be joining us for our 711 dinner party, and she is a vegetarian, aiming to be a vegan. I didn’t want to use fake meat, and I also didn’t want to make it a veggie Lasagne. I had some leftover sweetcorn risotto in the fridge so we decided to make risotto cakes with a marinara sauce for her. While the risotto cakes worked well, I am very pleased to announce that Mapper actually tried some Lasagne, and really enjoyed it. I take this as pretty high praise from someone who no longer eats meat!

The dinner party went very well, and luckily there were leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. I think Lasagne is always better the next day when the flavours have had time to mingle. If you have the time, this recipe is well worth the effort!

Lasagne, The English Way

Serves: 5 hungry birthday diners with some leftovers

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil
  • 1 pack of lasagne sheets
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 OXO cubes
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3/4 pint milk
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup English cheddar cheese, grated with a little extra for the topping
  • salt & pepper

METHOD

  • Take a large, heavy bottomed pan and drizzle in some olive oil. Over a medium heat, fry the onions until soft and then add garlic.
  • Place the beef in the pan and stir around until it is a nice brown colour.
  • Add in OXO cubes, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, italian seasoning and chilli flakes. Stir in the wine and cook down until reduced.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
  • Stir for a few minutes and then reduce the heat to medium-low, place a lid on the pan and leave for about 30 -40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the meat sauce is cooking, you can now prepare the white sauce.
  • Melt the butter in a pan and stir in flour to create a roux.
  • Add in the milk 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming. A whisk may be helpful at this point.
  • Keep stirring and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add in cheese, seasoning and continue to cook for a few minutes. Take off the heat and set aside for a few minutes. The sauce should be thick, but pourable.
  • Take a large rectangle baking dish (maybe 9×11?) and place a layer of meat sauce in the bottom. Cover with UNCOOKED pasta sheets and then a thin layer of white sauce. Repeat.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on the top if you would like.
  • Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until brown and bubbling.

Serve with garlic bread, a green salad, and LOTS of red wine!

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