An Italian classic, but now a classic here too! Using dried lasagne sheets, I like to leave the assembled lasagne for about 2 hours to soften before cooking. This is rich tasting and delicious and it’s very cheesy with a deep rich, tomatoey sauce. The mozzarella adds a lovely stringy texture.
COOK TIME 1 1⁄2 hours
8 sheets of dried (no precook) lasagne
1 x 125g ball of mozzarella, drained and chopped
75g (3oz) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
FOR THE MEAT SAUCE
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
800g (1 3⁄4 lb) lean minced beef
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp tomato purée
200ml (7 oz) red wine
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
a pinch of sugar
1 large bunch of basil, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
50g (2oz) butter
50g (2oz) plain our
600ml (1 pint) hot milk
2 tsp dijon mustard
50g (2oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
1. You will need a 2.3-3 litre (4-5 pint) square or rectangular ovenproof dish (see tips). Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
2. First, make the meat sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef and brown over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the garlic and tomato purée and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Pour in the red wine, chopped tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and add the sugar. Cover with a lid and simmer over a low heat for about 45 minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
4. Shortly before the meat sauce is ready, make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the our and stir over the heat for 30 seconds. Gradually stir in the hot milk, whisking, until you have a thickened, smooth sauce. Add the mustard and cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. To assemble the lasagne, spread a third of the meat sauce over the base of the ovenproof dish. Blob over a third of the white sauce and arrange four sheets of lasagne in a single layer on top. Spoon over another third each of the meat sauce and the white sauce, sprinkle over the mozzarella and then arrange another four lasagne sheets over the top. Spoon over the remaining meat sauce and white sauce and sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese.
6. Place on a baking tray, if necessary, to catch any drips, and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Can be assembled up to 8 hours ahead. The meat sauce can be made up to a day in advance to allow the flavours to develop.
The assembled lasagne freezes well; defrost and bake in the oven to serve.
MARY’S CLASSIC TIPS
A rectangular dish is best suited to the rectangular shape of the lasagne sheets, helping to avoid too much overlap between the sheets.
Break up the sheets, otherwise, to ensure they fit in an even layer and cover well with the sauce so that the edges don’t burn during cooking.
If cooking the lasagne straight away, it is best to soak the sheets of lasagne in hot water for 10 minutes before assembling. This makes sure they will be soft and cooked.