Assalamu’alaikum, hello again!
Notice how good I’ve been lately with blogging on a regular basis? ‘Tis sort of a new attempt at increasing productivity, doing the stuff I like (whether or not it is uni-related — no, wait, more like even if it is not uni-related ) as long as it is beneficial (to me or to others), minimising useless entertainment / unnecessary sleeptime and actually doing work properly when it is time to do work.
So, the recipe. I know it is spelled as lasagna or lasagne, but I’m spelling it this way just to differentiate it (ie. I don’t know what else to call it). Because this isn’t the typical lazania that uses those pasta sheets, but any regular long (or short or shaped) kind of pasta. It’s just called lazania because it’s baked in the oven and there’s some layers of yumness on top.
The final product, cut and served.
Essentially it consists of pasta with a tomato sauce and its toppings (whether meat or mushrooms or veg), plus a white sauce (also known as Béchamel sauce) layer, plus a breadcrumb layer. My mum learned this recipe from friends when she lived in the US over 20 years ago. Another reason for my typing and posting these recipes properly is just for convenience (read: for people to stop asking me for the recipes , not that I don’t like sharing, of course!).
What You Need:
Pastaaaaa. Any kind would do, usually I use spaghetti but this is fettucine, I think. Photo happens to show it already boiled. This recipe feeds 4-6 people, and I only used 400g of pasta.
Any kind of pre-made tomato-based pasta sauce. If you want to make this from not-so-scratch, you could mix tomato puree with chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh, and cook the sauce for longer, like at least 30 minutes. If you’re such a purist, you could also make this from scratch scratch.
Some kind of filling to go with the sauce. Usually mushrooms (again, canned or fresh) are a must for me but there were none in the kitchen. This is cut-up chicken salami. Minced beef/lamb is good, or sausages, or even vegetables if that’s your thing.
For the white sauce, you’ll need flour. I usually stick with all-purpose wheat flour but we ran out. So cornflour works too. I should also mention that there are off-the-shelf instant white sauce mixes available (I believe you just add hot water to it).
A stick (250g, but you don’t use all of it) of butter, salted or unsalted (just add salt later). I’m unsure of whether margarine would work the same way for the sauce, so no guarantees if it’s substitutable.
Fresh milk, full-fat or low-fat or in between or whathaveyou. I’m not good at guessing quantities, but I suppose I used a bit less than 1 pint (~500ml).
Not in Mama’s recipe, but I’ve come across versions of the white sauce that has ground nutmeg so I gave it a try. (Some also add garlic. And other stuff.) Also you’ll want salt and pepper.
Ze secret ingredient: bread crumbs! Bread crumbs are awesome, srsly. These were a mix of homemade and store-bought. To make breadcrumbs, just pop some stale bread (or bread crusts) in the oven till it’s quite crispy, and when it’s cool, crush everything with a pestle and mortar (or a food processor if you have one).
Boil pasta according to package instructions. The more water the better, I don’t know if the salt is really necessary but I do it anyway. And they say adding oil helps with things not sticking together, so feel free to do it the way you like.
Drain pasta and set aside. Keep the saucepan!
Ignore the horrid marks on the bottom of our pan. We’re going to start doing the red sauce bit now. Use some oil to brown the meat, if using. The salami is already cooked anyway but with ground beef, fry till it’s done then discard excess fat. If using fresh sliced mushrooms, add that in too.
Pour in the sauce-from-jar / from-scratch. Heat for a bit and do a taste test. Add whatever you feel is necessary (sugar / salt / pepper / basil / oregano?). I forgot to taste this time and the result ended up a bit bland. -_-” Sorry housemates!
Mix the pasta with the red sauce and pat nicely in the casserole dish. I’m using the same 9″ x 9″ ceramic dish as in the oreomisu recipe. This easily feeds 4-6 people.
Next is the white sauce bit. Me, being lazy, used the same saucepan, quickly rinsed, but it’s probably easier to use a nonstick frying pan. Melt about 75g of butter (I’m guesstimating. ^^;).
This is on low heat, by the way. Whisk in the plain flour, about the same amount as the butter (or maybe more). I know I’m being so unprecise.
Then add in the milk. I think you’re meant to heat the milk in the microwave first, but — you guessed it — I’m lazy. And cold milk works fine as long as you add it a little at a time. I hope. (Please any cooking experts ignore my n00bness.)
Keep whisking and adjusting amounts of milk / flour till it gets to this kind of consistency. Thick, but still pourable. Take off the heat if it starts getting too thick (then add more milk). Oh, add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Spread white sauce neatly over your pasta + sauce layer. Now pre-heat your oven to 180°C, wire rack in the middle.
And carefully pour a nice even layer of breadcrumbs all over the white sauce. Incidentally, people keep thinking there’s cheese in this recipe but there really isn’t. Just a ton of butter. (You’ll see, soon.)
And this it what it looks like. Ignore mess on the counter.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Ignore mess on oven door. I could never figure out how to clean in between the layers of glass. The panes don’t seem to come off.
In the meantime, melt 50g of butter in the microwave (on low setting!).
When the timer goes off, take out the lazania momentarily. Use a tablespoon to drip the butter all across the breadcrumbs. This immediately boosts the yum factor. Oh, for this part margarine is substitutable, or even olive oil or actually — you could just do without this layer of fat. But hey, what’s the fun in that. Pop in the oven for another 15 minutes.
And there you have it. Wonderful golden lazania. Leave to cool for a bit so that the layers set.
Cut into rectangles/squares and serve warm. The end!
This recipe is quite flexible and adjustable, as you can see. What I like is how you could feed a lot of people with this (good for parties!) or you could also reduce the portion to feed only one.
Gotta run, hope you’re all well, bye!