You’ve probably seen Marieclare around. I’ve mentioned her here, here, there and here, so you know that I love her dearly! One of the things we have in common is a love for bread and pasta, which is annoying actually because it would be way more convenient if we had… I don’t know… a kale and lettuce interest instead.
Pasta dishes are Marieclaire’s thing, her version of them anyway. She got in a fight with a random italian man about her version of the spaghetti bolognese once, she cooked a delicious pasta with chicken, cherry tomatoes and fetta cheese for Jack and I my first week back in Australia, and when I asked if she’d make her Best Dish for me she decided on lasagna!
I think every lasagna lover/maker has a special way of making it but I’m betting MC’s recipe would give them all a run for their money:
You’ll need: fresh lasagna sheets, organic minced beef, 1 can crushed tomatoes (out of a can), 1 onion, 2 red capsicum, olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, 1 small red chili 1 bottle Barilla tomato sauce. To make Bechamel, the white sauce, you need: shaved parmesan, all purpose flour, butter, and milk.
This fed three very hungry girls, who also had some pumpkin pie for dessert.
First thing you’ll want to do is start the oven on grill at 180 degrees.
Second, chop the onion into thin, long pieces. Then chop the garlic, add salt and squish it with a fork because according to MC “it brings out the juice of the garlic”. (We both don’t know if that’s true but I liked the sound of it.) Next is the chilli, chop and de pip it. Then wash your hands. I touched my eye after this step; it’s not fun.
Turn the pan on medium heat and add olive oil. Handy tip MC gave to know if the oil in the pan is hot enough is to drop a bit of water on the oil, if the oil bubbles it’s ready! Add the chili, the garlic and the onion to the pan. Don’t burn the garlic, I repeat – make sure the garlic does not burn!
Season the beef (we salted) and when the onions start to go transparent add in the beef. Keep moving and mixing everything around. This part and the next is a lot of work but don’t worry you’ll soon be sitting comfortably on your couch with a glass of wine waiting for the oven to do the rest of the work.
Once the meat has browned add in all of the Barilla tomato pasta sauce, then add the entire can of chopped tomatoes. Keep mixing, keep adding salt. Marieclaire likes salt. Then add the capsicum. Add salt again. Keep on Medium heat for about 2 more minutes, then change it to low because “stuff” is about to hit the fan.
Butter the oven proof dish you’ll be using to cook the lasagna.
Oh, by “stuff” I mean that white sauce called Bachamel! It’s time to make that! Grab a small saucepan and a whisk, also gather all your strength. Melt 150 grams of butter in the saucepan. Then add 2 table spoonfuls of flour and WHISK. Add a bit of milk then WHISK. You’ll want to keep adding milk as you WHISK until you reach the amount of thickness you like. Then I dropped in half a handful of the shaved parmesan and MC whisked for her life. Add salt and pepper and WHISK. When all is said and melted, taste it. If it makes you want to grab a spoon and eat out of the pan then you’ve done it! If you don’t then add more cheese. When your white sauce is ready take it off heat all together.
Now, make your base layer of lasagna sheet at the bottom of your buttered, oven proof dish. Then add in a layer of your tomato-beef-capsicum-onion-garlic mixture. On top of that pour a layer of your Bechamel sauce. Then salt. NO, haha I’m kidding. Don’t salt again, we’re not crazy! We’ve salted enough. Add a layer of lasagna sheet over the top of the white sauce and repeat the process until you’ve hit the top of your dish or you’ve run out of ingredients.
Sprinkle some of that good ol’ shaved parmesan on top and pop it in the oven for an estimated 40 minutes. You’ll want to keep checking it though, because your timer doesn’t know anything. Only you will know when it’s ready.
We didn’t make fancy, homemade garlic bread, we just grilled store bought ones on the stove but let me just say, it was a delicious combination. Not to mention the addition of MC’s favorite pinot noir, Coldstream Hill.
I just want to go out on a tree branch and say the lasagna was so tasty, just the perfect blend of tomato-y and cheesy. I think that Bechamel sauce adds that magical touch! I’m excited to make it on my own but I’m afraid I won’t have the arm strength to whisk fast enough.