With my love for lasagne (see this post for a teeny spiel on it), I'd always wanted to try making it from base; on the other hand, I didn't want it to become one of those it's-so-simple-to-make-let's-not-get-it dishes when we go out to eat at Italian restaurants. And truly, like most pasta dishes, it is quite a simple affair making lasagne (if you don't make the lasagne sheets by hand, of course). Simple, but it does take a little bit of time since you have to make the meat sauce, bechamel (white sauce) and then assemble them together in layers. Rob loved it, so the effort was well worth it. Don't let the time factor put you off because it is quite yummy.
The meat sauce was basically my spag bol recipe without all the veges. And bechamel is basically a simple roux made from butter/oil, flour and milk. I bought the only lasagne sheets I could find on the shelf at the groceries store: "No boil lasagne" - these ones cook with the moisture from the sauce inside the dish, so you gotta make sure that the sheets are covered with sauce (unless you like crunchy lasagne, which actually wouldn't be a bad recipe idea!). Since there are only two of us, I made the lasagne in single serves using ovenproof bowls. This recipe is for 2 servings, and the quantities can be doubled or tripled (or more) to fit into a large oven dish.
250g mince meat (of your choice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
a splash of milk
1x410g can of crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
a pinch of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
dried lasagne sheets (as needed)
shredded mozarella cheese (again, as much as needed)
1. Prepare the meat sauce by sauteing the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes until softened and cooked.
2. Add the mince meat and milk, and cook while stirring until the meat is browned and has absorbed the milk.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes and sugar, bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. At this point, preheat oven to 180°C.
6. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat.
7. Add the flour and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
8. Slowly add milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
9. Return to heat and continue cooking while stirring for 5 to 10 minutes or until mixture comes to the boil. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg to the white sauce, and season to taste.
9. Put 1/3 of the meat sauce at the bottom of two ovenproof 2-cup capacity bowls, then top with a layer of lasagne sheet.
10. Spoon over half the remaining meat sauce, dividing equally between the two bowls.
11. Top with one-third of the bechamel and spread evenly between the two bowls.
12. Repeat the pasta, meat sauce and bechamel layers.
13. Top with the final layer of pasta and spoon the remaining bechamel over the pasta sheets, spreading evenly.
14. Sprinkle (liberally) with cheese.
15. Bake the lasagne, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pasta is tender and top is golden.
(Unfortunately it's not a very photogenic dish. And Rob came home 2 hours later than expected, it was sitting for a long time in the warm oven so the top was very brown)