"OMG! This is the absolute BEST lasagna I have EVER had!!!"
DH and I were out late last night and felt a bit fragile this morning. After the lovely Father's Day wishes and cuddles, I decided the best way to spend a gray Sunday afternoon is to cook a delicious Father's Day dinner fit for a king! (and this, believe me, if definitely fit for a king!) DH was asking me to make him lasagna, and having not made this for years, I checked out some recipes and really liked the look of Jamie Oliver's "Simple Lasagna". Why it is called "Simple Lasagna" I haven't a clue, since it isn't especially simple to make! HOWEVER - I made some modifications and cut some corners with my version of this recipe, (although you DO need to spend a bit of time making this beauty!) but I don't think it will lose the depth of flavour Jamie was set out to accomplish. It definitely is worth making this - I plan on freezing the leftovers into individual portions for TJ - he just LOVES lasagna! Also the recipe makes up more meat sauce than is needed, so it will also be good to combine with fresh pasta for TJ dinners as well. Next time I make this - it will be for entertaining guests, so I can share this most excellent dish with others!
Here it is:
• 250g pancetta or smoked bacon, chopped
• 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more!)
• 1 large onion, finely chopped (food chopper for these next 4 ingredients makes it sooo easy!)
• 2 carrots, finely chopped
• 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of fresh herbs I had some oregano and rosemary, but you could use basil and/or sage
• olive oil
• 300g minced beef
• 250g minced pork
• 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
• 300ml red wine or water
• 2-3 bay leaves
• 1 butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 400g fresh lasagna sheets (or cooked - dried lasagna sheets)
• 400g mozzarella, torn up
for the white sauce
• 1 x 500ml tub of crème fraîche
• 3 anchovies, finely chopped (really! it does increase the flavour and isn't so bad!)
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
optional: a little milk - just a splash!
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. In a large stainless steel skillet pan slowly fry the pancetta and cinnamon until golden, (this smells so gorgeous!!!) then add the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix together, then add the beef and pork. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes and the wine or water. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Transfer to the Covered Baker or a casserole dish with lid. Then get some greaseproof paper, wet it and place it on top of the dish with a lid placed on top as well. Then place in the preheated oven for 2 hours. (yes, don't worry, 2 hours!) Place the butternut squash pieces in a plastic resealable bag with the olive oil, coriander and chili flakes. Shake to cover squash with spices and oil and then tip onto rectangular stone (or baking tray). Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking the sauce. When the sauce is done, season to taste and put to one side. Mix together the crème fraîche, anchovies, and a handful of Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. You may need to loosen the mixture with a splash of milk. (you want a béchamel sauce consistency)
Turn the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. To assemble the lasagna, rub an earthenware lasagne dish (Square Baker) with olive oil, lay some sheets of lasagne over the bottom. Add a layer of meat, a little white sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Break the butternut squash into pieces and use this as one layer, then repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of pasta covered in white sauce. Tear over the mozzarella and sprinkle with some extra Parmesan. Cook in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes until golden.
and now for dessert . . . . .
Found this recipe in today's YOU magazine supplement in the Sunday papers. Nigella's recipe and as soon as I saw it, I thought I must make this for DH - he will love it over ice cream! (and so will the rest of us!!)
Problem is - I don't have much of a sweet tooth at all, HOWEVER - when I tasted this, I was hooked! The combination of the sweet with the salt tricked my mind into absolutely LOVING this sweet, sticky sauce! I just might have a big problem now if I make it again! (the thing is - it's so easy to make!!!! AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!)
Salted Caramel Sauce
*Makes enough to pour over ice cream for 6-8 people (or 3-4 greedy ones!)
75g salted butter, best quality
50g soft light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
125ml double cream
1/2 - 1 1/2 teaspoons finest salt, to taste
Melt the butter, sugars and golden syrup in a small, heavy-based saucepan and let it simmer for 3 minutes, swirling and stirring every now and again.
The sauce should turn from gold to dark amber as it cooks.
Add the cream carefully, then half a teaspoon of salt, and swirl again.
Give it a stir with a wooden spoon and taste - go cautiously so that you don't burn your tongue - to see if you want more salt, before letting it cook for another minute, then pour into a jug for serving.