I’ve begun to look forward to the possibilities of this a lot more. After all, it’s not a chore. I’m cooking recipes from some of the best selling cook books in the world, why not go ahead and enjoy it?
Depending on food situation, I now try and cook two of the large mains a week for me to spread throughout. Depending how much I’m out I sometimes only need to do it once.
Here I crack on with a Calabrian lasagne from Nigellissima. I must admit I doubted. The end photo she had in the book looks wonderful, but the photos of the assembly stage in the book look like a bit of a turn off. And the thought of ham and egg in a lasagne just didn’t grab me. Oh how did I ever doubt Nigella?
The result was super tasty and hearty. The re-heat was just as tasty, perhaps even better. Me and and mother are firm believers in the re-heat almost being better than the freshly cooked version. My only problem was forgetting to save some sauce for the top of the lasagne. I was tired. Biut aside from being left with a crispy top, purely due to my error, it was brilliant. (The featured photo is from my second attempt, which I didn’t cock up).
Stages: cook the eggs and set aside, cook the beef and then boil in passata and wine. Add three layers of the lasagne, beef sauce, ham, chopped eggs & mozzarella, and spread the final bit of beef sauce over the top with some cheese. Put in the oven, and then enjoy.
Good: only two separate stages of cooking before the lasagne gets assembled, and they’re all pretty straightforward. It’s a hearty and tasty delight. No white sauce thank God.
Bad: Nigella’s book almost undersells it, and the assembly photos don’t do it justice.
Ingredients (serves 4, or 3 very hearty portions for yourself):
- 2 eggs
- olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
- 250g mince beef
- 40ml red wine
- 500ml of tomato passata (+ 500ml water)
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 mozzarella balls
- 250-300g lasagne sheets (dried)
- 150-200g of thinly sliced cooked ham
- 45-60ml of greater Parmesan (4 tablespoons)
- Large / deep frying pan
- Small saucepan
- Medium baking tray / sizeable round pyrex dish
- Preheat the oven to 200 C (fan).
- Put two eggs in a small saucepan of water, and put on the heat. It’ll probably take around 6-7 mins to begin to boil, and then boil for a further 7 mins.
- While that’s going on, chop up the onion, set aside.
- Cut away half the beef from a standard pack of 500g and set aside. (Store the rest as you desire).
- Once the eggs are ready, take off the heat and put the saucepan in the sink with the cold water tap running into it for a few mins mins.
Stage 1: Cooking the beef and more prep
- Put a large (and deep-ish) frying pan on the hob with the olive oil (I used Nigella’s garlic-infused olive oil). Fry the chopped onions with the salt flakes for a few mins.
- Add the minced beef and cook until it changed colour.
- Add the red wine. Cook for a 1 minute.
- Add the passata. Fill the carton with water, swill it carefully and then add to the pan as well. Also add a veggie stock cube at this stage if you fancy, which I usually do. Put a lid on (or cover with foil, as I do), and have it on a “robust simmer” – as Nigella says – for 10-15 mins.
- While it cooks, peel the boiled eggs. A loathsome task. Then chop up and they’ll crumble nicely.
- Then drain the two mozzarella balls, and chop them up finely as well and mix with the chopped up eggs.
- The beef sauce will still be pretty watery, but that’s fine! Take of the heat and discard the foil.
Stage 2: assembling the lasagne
- Get a medium baking tray or a healthy size round Pyrex dish (as I have) and put a thin-ish layer of sauce on the bottom. No actual beef to be put in yet.
- Then you can assemble as follows. There are three layers, each roughly comprising of, in order:
- 1/4 of lasagne sheets
- 30% of the beef (you need some left for the top!)
- 1/3rd of the ham
- 1/3rd of the chopped eggs & mozzarella
- Then add a final layer of the lasagne sheets on top, with the approx 10% of beef sauce left over, and then sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the top.
- See the the diagram below for a summary:
- Cover the Pyrex/tray with tightly with foil. Bung in the oven for 1 hour.
- Sit aside for 5-10 mins. Nigella says 20 mins, but that is never going to happen, is it?
Do not forget to save some of the sauce for the top of the lasagne!
For a dinner party this serves 4. If you’re cooking for yourself and your always ravenous like me, you can eat it in thirds. Keep in the fridge and reheat for continued Calambrian joy.