What we might recognise as lasagne was first made in Ancient Greece, although the modern version with which we are all familiar comes from Italy. It’s simple to cook, easy to serve, and provides a healthy and substantial meal, especially if you serve it with a Mediterranean-style side salad. This is made with the Bolognese meat sauce as it’s base so make double of the sauce and then you have enough for two meals! A three cheese sauce adds a great depth of flavor to this classic recipe too. This could also be made from scratch with three cheeses of your choice and single cream or milk to mix.
- 1-2tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red pepper, trimmed, halved cored and deseeded and finely chopped
- 100g cubetti di pancetta (or cubed bacon)
- 500g lean beef steak mince
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 2tbsp tomato puree
- 300ml beef stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 150g dried no need to pre-cook lasagne sheets
- 500g ready made fresh Italian three cheese sauce, heated
- 4 sprigs fresh basil
Heat the oil in a large heavy base pan add the onion, garlic and pepper and cook for about 5 mins or until softened but not coloured, stirring now and then. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook for 5 mins, stirring often. Then add the beef to the pan and cook for about 5 mins, until the meat is browned stirring every now and then.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes and puree then add the beef stock. Bring the meat mix slowly to the boil, partially cover the pan with a lid then reduce the heat to a simmer gently for about 30 to 45 mins or until the sauce is rich and thickened stirring often. If the mix is becoming too thick add a splash more stock. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar if you feel it needs it.
When ready to cook preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/170°C Fan/Gas Mark 5. Spoon half the meat sauce into the bottom of a 1.5 litre rectangle dish, then add a layer of half the lasagne sheets, snapping the sheets to make them fit (the exact number you use will depend on the size of the dish).
Then spread over half the cheese sauce and repeat. Cook in the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour or until piping hot and the cheese is starting to turn golden – the exact time will depend on whether your sauce was hot or cold to begin with!
Top tip for making Italian three cheese lasagne
The classic lasagne meat sauce contains carrots and celery instead of red pepper. If you prefer, omit the pepper and substitute with 1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped, and 1 carrot trimmed and finely chopped.