Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lasagna Days

Last week we tried two different versions of lasagna: one vegetarian - grilled vegetable lasagna from Gordon Ramsay's 'Cooking for Friends' and one classic meat lasagna - simple baked lasagna from 'Jamie's Dinners'.

First the tomato sauce for the vegetable lasagna: after heating the oil in saucepan, we added the onion, celery stalks, carrot, garlic and fresh thyme with some seasoning and cooked until the vegetables are soft. We then put the tomatoes and simmered for 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce was thickened. We added a little bit of sugar here.

first the tomato sauce
In the meantime, we prepared the vegetables: we trimmed and sliced the eggplants and zucchinis, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned. We cooked them in batches on our red hot griddle pan for 2-3 minutes on each side (until they are lightly charred). For the red and yellow peppers: we cut them in half and grilled them again until they are charred, left to cool slightly, then peeled of the skins and discarded the seeds.

When the tomato sauce was ready, we added the basil and we blitzed them until smooth in the food processor. Here, we preheated the oven to 180 degrees and started to prepare the lasagna dish. First, we laid a thin layer of tomato sauce over the base, then the lasagna sheets and then sprinkled over a little parmesan. 

the thin layer of tomato sauce being laid over the base of the dish
We then arranged a layer of the vegetables, followed by a layer of mozzarella and a layer of tomato sauce. And we repeated this until we reached the top of the dish. 

a layer of vegetables
then the mozzarellas on top of the vegetables
and a layer of the tomato sauce
We finished with a layer of lasagna sheets spread generously with the tomato sauce and topped with a layer of mozzarella and sprinkling of parmesan. We baked for 30-40 minutes until the cheese topping is golden brown. 

The only setback with this one was we used dry lasagna sheets instead of fresh ones (as we cannot find fresh lasagna anywhere) and the edges of the lasagna was tough. For our next lasagna below, we put each lasagna sheet in hot water for a second before arranging them on the dish. And it really worked out. We should try to prepare lasagna sheets at home (we have never tried to prepare any dough yet!) but this method is a good alternative.

Ingredients (for 4-6):
300g fresh lasagna sheets (about 12)  - we used Barilla
75g freshly grated parmesan
3 x 150g buffalo mozzarella
a small handful of basil leaves

Grilled Vegetables:
1 small eggplant
1 large zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
olive oil to drizzle
few sprigs of thyme and rosemary

Tomato sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
leaves from a sprig of thyme
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes in natural juice
1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
a small handful of basil leaves

Jamie's 'Simple Baked Lasagna'

You can visit here for Jamie's recipe. For its sauce, instead of pork belly we used bacon and put a bit more minced-meat. And instead of butternut squash, we baked pumpkin. We cooked the sauce in our Staube iron-cast pan and it made a difference. We got some real good reviews on the table!

meat lasagna from Jamie

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