December 1, 2010

My Lazy Lasagne

I had cheated with my meringue dessert recipe (by using store bought meringues instead of making them) and now "lazy" is the adjective of choice for my lasagne dish.  In case I'd given you the impression that I'm a slothful cook who operates from a super messy kitchen littered with empty packages of instant mixes and microwave food (God forbid!), I'd better clarify that I am just a huge fan of efficiency.

Keep some bottles of this fabulous pasta sauce handy, in case laziness hits you
at the time when you need to obey your Italian food craving  

When translated to my cooking style, it means I am the sort who takes recipes with a pinch of salt, often modifying the ingredients and exploring alternative techniques that are within my means.  I do not relish complex and tediously long cooking methods, which just put me off.  I want to retain my keeness towards cooking, to use fresh ingredients most of the time but to also have the freedom to include modern provisions where I can.  Excuse me for seeking some relief but I would like to sum all that up as "smart cooking". Heehee.  Having said that, I indulge in demanding traditional cooking styles once in a while, when I'm less lazy, that is. 

I also stock up on canned champignons in case I run out of fresh mushrooms
when the recipe calls for them. 

I flipped through the Italian cook book in search of lunch ideas and decided on lasagne.  I wasn't exactly in the mood for elaborate cooking that afternoon, so the sight of bottled pasta sauce in my grocery drawer made me ditch the idea of cooking the Bolognese sauce from scratch as per the cook book.  (See Beef & Mushroom Spaghetti if you'd like to make your own sauce).  With some quick mental modifications of the original lasagne recipe, I amassed whatever I could from my drawer and fridge. Then, as if the spatula was my magic wand, the lasagne was ready in record time.  I wasn't the least bothered by how picture imperfect the lasagne had turned out because it tasted excellent.  I felt really satisfied with the outcome and slouched back on the couch for my post-cooking reading pleasure of Marian Keyes' latest fiction.  

My confidence was boosted later in the day when my husband repeatedly commented,"What superb lasagne this is!". It wasn't just a husband's show of random support but a genuine appreciation of deliciousness.  Now that wasn't fiction, thanks! 

(L to R): White sauce and Bolognese sauce; the layering process;
and the dish almost ready to be baked

(Serves 4)

1 bottle Bolognese sauce (or make your own)
350g minced beef
12 dried lasagne sheets
1 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 can champignons - cut into halves
50g grated Parmesan cheese

For the white sauce
50g butter
25g plain flour
300ml milk
50g grated cheddar cheese


1.  Heat oven to 190*C.  Fry minced meat without oil until cooked.  Set aside.

2.  Heat olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat.  Add minced meat and mushrooms and cook gently until mushrooms are soft.  Add Bolognese sauce and mix well.  Remove from heat.

3.  Heat butter in a saucepan until melted.  Add flour and stir, then pour in the milk, stirring until teh sauce thickens and forms a smooth consistency.  Add cheese and stir to combine.

4.  Put 1/3 of meat sauce into teh base of a square or oblong baking dish; layer with 1/3 of the white sauce followed by the lasagne sheets.  Repeat the layers, finishing a layer of lasagne sheet topped with white sauce.  

5.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake in oven for 25-30 mins until bubbling and brown on top.

Fearlessly Simple & Home Cooked

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